Major League Baseball players could face fines of up to $250 for using smokeless tobacco at Miller Park under an ordinance proposed by Milwaukee Ald. Michael Murphy.
The proposed ordinance, introduced earlier this week, would ban the use of smokeless tobacco by anyone at sporting venues in the city, including on playing fields, team bench areas, vendor areas, spectator seating areas, parking lots and designated tailgating areas.
The ban would apply to sporting events in the city at the professional, collegiate, high school or amateur level. While it applies to all sports, baseball would be particularly impacted because some baseball players have used smokeless tobacco for years.
“The use of smokeless tobacco has become part of the culture of some sports, particularly baseball, and is reinforced through the use of smokeless tobacco by players, coaches and fans at professional and amateur levels of the sport,” the legislation text says.
It also notes that Major League Baseball has banned the use of smokeless tobacco by minor league players since 1993 but doesn’t have a ban in place at the Major League level.
A number of other cities, including San Francisco, Boston, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, have banned smokeless tobacco at ballparks. A statewide ban of smokeless tobacco at ballparks will go into effect for the 2017 in California and similar bans have been proposed in Washington D.C., Toronto and Minnesota.
“We fully support this initiative, and want to set an example for all Brewers fans in understanding the dangers of smokeless tobacco,” the Milwaukee Brewers said in a statement.
The Milwaukee ordinance cites the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in saying that athletes using smokeless tobacco make the product more attractive to youth. It also says 17.4 percent of male Wisconsin high school students use smokeless tobacco.
Anyone found to be in violation of the ordinance would be subject to a fine of $100 to $250.
It also requires anyone in charge of a sporting event venue to post signs about the ban at the venue, refuse to serve food or drink to anyone violating the ban, ask anyone using smokeless tobacco products to stop or leave the event and contact law enforcement if the person does not stop.
A person in charge of a sporting event venue who violates the ban would be subject to a fine of up to $100 per day after receiving a warning.
Murphy issued a statement Tuesday encouraging members of the public to attend a hearing on the measure Thursday.
"It's time that we act on warnings from our public health experts and join other cities in this ban," Murphy said.