The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and other anti-tobacco groups have persuaded the city of San Francisco to ban smokeless tobacco in municipal sports venues (here). The ordinance takes effect in January 2016, but neither athletes nor fans will likely feel its effect.
CTFK president Matthew Myers wants smokeless products banned everywhere; last week he convinced the California Assembly to pass a state-wide ballpark ban (here); the bill is pending in the state senate.
If Myers and ballpark barons really wanted to protect children, they wouldn’t let fans drink alcohol and drive. Most venues sell alcohol; San Fran’s AT&T Park offers beer, wine, Irish coffee and 4,000 parking spaces.
To be effective, ballpark bans would require full-body searches, including mouth exams, at the gates. A game’s worth of snus or moist snuff pouches can fit in a zip-lock bag and be tucked in a pocket or purse. Placement inside the upper lip virtually eliminates spitting, making use of the product invisible. Even slo-mo replays won’t expose players’ enjoyment of these products on the field.
Laws should not be broken, but as with the failed American experiment of Prohibition a century ago, ballpark bans on smokeless tobacco will only spark civil disobedience.