King County bans pro-players from using any tobacco during games

Apr 19, 2018, 9:25 AM | Updated: 2:27 pm

smokeless tobacco, Safeco Field...

(Matt Pitman/ KIRO Radio)

(Matt Pitman/ KIRO Radio)

King County has banned players from using any tobacco products during professional sporting events countywide.

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Thursday afternoon, the King County Board of Health discussed rules for all professional sports stadiums that would make it illegal to use any tobacco products. The board unanimously voted in favor of the tobacco ban. Seattle is the 15th city to completely ban tobacco products.

Both Safeco Field and CenturyLink Field have policies that prohibit fans and attendees from using tobacco products. However, there are no policies directed to the players on the field, inside the locker room, or the clubhouse.

Tobacco and sports

710 ESPN Seattle host Danny O’Neil says at least half of all MLB players still use chewing tobacco. And yes, they still spit.

“You’re just not watching close enough.”

There are players that don’t. Take Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano, for example. He alternates between seeds and gum.

“There are players who don’t chew at all. But it’s very much a part of the game.”

There are a number of factors that could play into why baseball players still chew. The long trips and amount of downtime could play a role and players could do it to occupy their time. It’s also embedded in baseball culture.

And it’s that culture that King County is looking to change. The board is using children’s health as a means to sell the ban. The report to the board states more than 400,000 children in the country under the age of 18 use smokeless tobacco for the first time in each year. It’s estimated that 1,300 children in grades six through 12 chew.

There would be concerns, including Nicotine withdrawals. Coaches aren’t going to want their players quitting a habit mid-season.

Plus, how will it actually be enforced? Are police going to ticket players in the dugout?

It’s possible that all the ban will do is force players and coaches to be more surreptitious about their habits.

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