Supervisor Farrell to Formally Introduce Anti-Chewing Tobacco Legislation

SAN FRANCISCO – At today’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Mark Farrell will introduce legislation to ban tobacco related products – including chewing tobacco – at stadiums, sports arenas, and playing fields across San Francisco. If passed, San Francisco will be the first city in the country to make such a ban. 

Supervisor Mark Farrell to Formally Introduce Anti-Chewing Tobacco Legislation

SAN FRANCISCO – At today’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Mark Farrell will introduce legislation to ban tobacco related products – including chewing tobacco – at stadiums, sports arenas, and playing fields across San Francisco. If passed, San Francisco will be the first city in the country to make such a ban. 

“This is an issue affecting millions of children across our country and thousands of children in San Francisco,” said Supervisor Farrell. “I don’t want my children’s future, or the future of any other children growing up in San Francisco playing baseball, to include chewing tobacco. No more.” 

Two weeks ago, Supervisor Farrell joined national, state, and local public health and youth advocates to announce his intentions to introduce the law. The measure is designed to protect San Francisco’s youth and the broader community, and as professional baseball’s spring training gets underway, to send a simple powerful message: tobacco does not belong near San Francisco’s kids. 

A Center for Disease Control (CDC) Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance Report found that nationally 14.7% percent of high-school boys and 8.8 percent of all high-school students reported using smokeless products in 2013, with 3.3% of high-school students reporting current use in San Francisco. And each year, over 400,000 kids ages 12-17 use smokeless tobacco for the first time in the United States. 

“It is time for City Hall to step-up and protect the next generation of San Franciscans,” said Supervisor Farrell. 

Public health authorities, including the Surgeon General and the National Cancer Institute, have found that smokeless tobacco use is hazardous to health and can easily lead to nicotine addiction. The National Cancer Institute states that chewing tobacco and snuff contain 28 known cancer-causing agents and the United States National Toxicology Program has established smokeless tobacco as a “known human carcinogen.” 

In particular, youth players are vulnerable to developing the deadly habit of using smokeless tobacco, given its strong association with playing sports, in particular with a legacy of decades of association with baseball. Smokeless tobacco products are heavily advertised and promoted, with the top five smokeless tobacco companies in the U.S. more than tripling their total advertising and marketing expenditures from 1998 to 2011. The Federal Trade Commission reports that in 2011, these smokeless tobacco companies spent $451.7 million to advertise and promote their products. Today, that number is even more. 

“Our national pastime should be about promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, not a deadly and addictive product,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, sponsor of the legislation offered today. “It is time – finally – to kick tobacco out of baseball completely for kids, the players, and the future. Today’s actions in California are crucial for achieving our goal of the first tobacco-free generation. Players who dip or chew are providing the tobacco industry with free marketing, and that’s not something anyone needs.” 

Supervisor Farrell’s proposal will apply to baseball games at all levels, including the major and minor leagues, all interscholastic and intermural play, and organized leagues for youth, or adults. It will cover the players, the fans, and anyone in the venue during a baseball game. It will also apply to specific athletic fields and events that are owned by the City as well. 

“Make no mistake: smokeless tobacco is a dangerous, addictive product containing at least 28 cancer-causing chemicals,” said Dr. Roger Eng, President, San Francisco Medical Society. “We have a sacred public-health obligation to our children to ensure it isn’t being celebrated on the national sports stage.” 

Recent headlines have driven home the seriousness of the problem. Last June, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn died at age 54 after a long battle with salivary gland cancer, which he attributed to his longtime use of chewing tobacco. Two months later, pitching great Curt Schilling, only 47, announced his treatment for oral cancer that he said was “without a doubt, unquestionably” caused by 30 years of chewing tobacco. 

Supervisor Farrell’s legislation is expected to be heard in a Board of Supervisor’s Committee in just over a month.

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