ST. LOUIS (AP) - Baseball players with big wads of chewing tobacco in their cheek are now a thing from the past at Busch Stadium.
The St. Louis Board of Aldermen voted Friday to prohibit the use of smokeless tobacco products like chewing tobacco, dip and snuff at all sports venues, including Cardinals games at Busch Stadium. The measure provides no exemption for players or anyone else on the field or in the dugouts.
"Today, St. Louis is sending a loud and clear message that baseball players and other athletes are role models for our nation's youth, and tobacco should no longer be associated with the sports culture," said Alderwoman Dionne Flowers, the sponsor of the bill. "Today's vote is a win for the health of our kids and our community."
Cardinals spokesman Ron Watermon said the team supported the ban.
"Understanding the dangers and risks associated with the use of smokeless tobacco, we join with MLB in supporting a ban at all levels of baseball," he said. "We strongly believe that children should not be exposed to smokeless tobacco or see such products being used by their on-field sports heroes."
Busch Stadium becomes the 14th venue in Major League Baseball where smokeless tobacco is banned. Last month the city council in St. Petersburg, Florida, banned smokeless tobacco products at all organized sporting events, including Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays.
The St. Louis law applies to all facilities hosting professional, collegiate, high school or organized amateur sporting events. In addition to the teams themselves, the law applies to fans, employees and others in the venue.
Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, applauded passage of the bill.
"Our national pastime should be about promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, not a deadly and addictive product," Myers said in a news release.
In addition to laws, baseball's new labor contract bars smokeless tobacco use for any player with no current major league service.
Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn's death from oral cancer two years ago spurred a renewed look at the risks of smokeless tobacco, which has been connected to a higher risk of several types of cancer and other ailments.
Other communities where action has been taken to prohibit the use of smokeless tobacco include New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Milwaukee, Boston and Washington. Three others - Anaheim, Oakland and San Diego - are covered by a statewide law that is to take effect in California before the start of this season.