September 18, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Advocacy Public Health
Following the footsteps of its Bay Area neighbors to the north, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously (14-0) to ban smokeless tobacco use from all sports venues within city limits. The rule will apply to players and fans alike.
The city attorney was given 30 days to draft the new law, which could take effect as soon as January, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“Our parks and stadiums are places for creating healthy choices for the next generation, not for cancer-causing addictions,” L.A. Councilmember David Ryu said in a statement. “Today’s successful vote allows for our children to live healthy and active lifestyles. I urge other cities and states across the county to take similar steps to protect our kids from addictive and cancer-causing behaviors.”
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a similar ordinance against tobacco in April that prohibited the use of all tobacco products at baseball venues within the city and county. Like L.A.’s measure, San Francisco’s injunction includes a ban on chewing tobacco and snuff and applies to everyone attending the venues.
Los Angeles Councilmember Jose Huizar, who introduced the motion in June, said such measures are past due.
“Today, the City of Los Angeles joins the ranks of San Francisco and Boston in what is becoming a national effort to knock tobacco out of the park,” Huizar said. “Smokeless tobacco use in the great American pastime is way past its time. The time to act is now to save others, particularly our young people, from an extremely addictive and potentially deadly product.”
The Los Angeles Dodgers are among those in support of the ordinance.
“With today’s vote, the Los Angeles City Council has provided tremendous momentum to take tobacco out of baseball once and for all,” said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “This action will save lives by reducing the number of young people who begin to use smokeless tobacco because they follow the example of their favorite Major Leaguers. Our national pastime should be about promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, not a deadly and addictive product.”
The action of the Los Angeles City Council comes at a time when state Gov. Jerry Brown is set to consider a statewide ban on tobacco in every California ballpark. A bill to prohibit smokeless tobacco at those sites has already been passed by both the Senate and Assembly and is currently sitting on the governor’s desk for a decision.
Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death and disease in California, claiming the lives of nearly 40,000 people each year. It costs the state $9 billion in health care costs annually, placing a significant burden on California’s already overstressed health care system.