Chewing, snuff tobacco banned at sports venues

The upcoming game against Stanford on Saturday in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will be one of the last before new health restrictions take effect.

On Tuesday, Sept. 8, the Los Angeles City Council voted 14-0 to ban smokeless tobacco at all Los Angeles sporting venues, including those for youth.

The restriction will commence by Jan. 2016, following in the footsteps of similar bans on cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

The ban will apply to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, though according to Coliseum general manager Joe Furin, the ban won’t severely affect fans at the Coliseum.

“Smokeless tobacco has had a minimal effect. Rarely do we hear about a customer or a fan using it,” Furin said. “If anything, it would be more the players.”

City council advocated for the ban due to smokeless tobacco’s link to cancer, and determined that athletes should not be publicly endorsing such a harmful product. Additionally, they referred to the substance’s potential for lifelong addiction when justifying the ordinance.

Daniel Durbin, clinical professor of communication at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism specializing in sports, said the ban will positively affect audience members and the venues.

“I think the ban adds positively to the environment,” Durbin said. “On one side, it gets rid of a substance that is disgusting, unhealthy and often has been cited as causing cancer of the jaw. It also gets rid of a substance that makes people spit all the time.”

The Los Angeles Dodgers have released a statement to show their support for the ban as well.

Though the ban initially applied solely to baseball stadiums, it was expanded to include all locations where sports are organized.

Jose Huizar, the city council member who authored the motion for the ban, cited a report by the U.S. Center for Disease Control as support for broadening the restriction to all sporting venues. The data from this study revealed that high school athletes use smokeless tobacco twice as much as non-athletes.

Furthermore, 17.4 percent of high school athletes used smokeless tobacco in 2013, Huizar said.

Durbin said smokeless tobacco, poses a danger to Los Angeles youth.

“You socialize people into behaviors by having behaviors within a group or a team that they want to join,” Durbin said. “So if it is presumed that all baseball players chew tobacco, which, at one time, was not far from the truth, [and] if you’re a kid growing up, the assumption is that you, too, will chew tobacco.”