LA City Council committee to consider ban on chewing tobacco

- The Los Angeles City Council is expected to vote Tuesday on a proposed ban on chewing tobacco use at all organized sports venues in the city, including Dodger Stadium, and all city parks.

The council's Health, Mental Health and Education Committee is scheduled to take up the draft ordinance first, and if approved, the City Council is expected to vote on it the same morning.

The ordinance would prohibit the use of smokeless tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco, at stadiums, fields and other venues where organized sports are played, as well as all city parks.

The proposed ordinance would affect not only professional sports venues, but also sites where amateur events organized by youth, school, park and other groups are held.

The council tentatively backed the ban in September by asking the City Attorney to prepare the ordinance. City leaders expect that the ban will go into effect before the start of the Los Angeles Dodgers' season in April.

Councilman Jose Huizar, who authored the ban, said chewing tobacco, which is linked to cancer, affects not only ballplayers, but also young people who emulate their sports idols.

Huizar said a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that high school athletes use smokeless tobacco at nearly twice the rate of non-athletes.

Smokeless tobacco use among athletes increased from 2001 to 2013, even as smoking rates dropped dramatically during the same period, according to the report.

Smokeless tobacco use among male high school athletes was at 17.4 percent in 2013, according to Huizar's office.

Smokeless tobacco contains cancer-causing chemicals, is linked to oral, pancreatic and esophageal cancer as well as other mouth-related health problems, and could result in nicotine addiction, Huizar said.

San Francisco and Boston already prohibit smokeless tobacco at all organized sports venues.

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