Smokeless Tobacco Is Gone From the Ballpark, but Not the Clubhouse

Instead, Major League Baseball, which supports the bans, and local authorities seem to be satisfied that the publicity generated by the new laws is painting a starker picture of smokeless tobacco and serving as a stronger deterrent to its use — and not only among major leaguers.

“The bigger goal is about ending the influence on young people,” said Rick Coca, a spokesman for Jose Huizar, the Los Angeles city councilman who introduced the smokeless tobacco legislation there. “And that’s going to occur over time, not overnight,” he added.

A study released in 2014 by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society estimated as many as one-third of major league players used smokeless tobacco, long a staple of baseball culture. These days, based on random observation of various clubhouses, that figure might be a little high. Before recent games at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium, one team had four players with smokeless tobacco containers in the clubhouse; other teams had no visible usage.


The Hall of Fame outfielder Tony Gwynn died in 2014 from salivary gland cancer. He attributed his cancer to frequent consumption of smokeless tobacco.

Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

A majority of players are no doubt aware of the health risks of smokeless tobacco, particularly after the Hall of Fame outfielder Tony Gwynn died in 2014, at age 54, from salivary gland cancer. Gwynn used smokeless tobacco beginning in 1977, and attributed his cancer to frequent consumption.

Nevertheless, a number of players, when asked about the new laws, said they viewed them as an invasion of personal rights.

The Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson does not use smokeless tobacco and says he tries to embrace a healthy lifestyle. But as a veteran leader on the Mets, who have had several smokeless tobacco users in recent years, he is critical of the ban.

“There still isn’t 100 percent clarity in terms of who’s going to be enforcing it,” said Granderson, who also sits on the board of the players union. “Is it the Citi Field law enforcement? Is it going to be the police? Is it going to be the New York State Police? Is it going to be Major League Baseball? If someone in the dugout — like we have security there for our protection — if they see a player that’s using smokeless tobacco, are they going to slap them with a ticket at that time?”

One player who uses smokeless tobacco thought the law created an unnecessary burden for players who should be focused on baseball rather than the risk of becoming scofflaws.

“I do definitely look around,” said the player, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Like, are there any cameras on me?”

A spokeswoman from the office of the New York mayor, Bill de Blasio, said city enforcement of the smokeless-tobacco ban was complaint-based; as…

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