California bill would ban chewing tobacco at baseball parks

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California bill would ban chewing tobacco at baseball parks
FORT MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 26: The Red Sox Jonny Gomes is pictured with a wad of chewing tobacco in his cheek during practice. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 14: A pouch of chewing tobacco lays on the field before the Cleveland Indians MLB game against the Toronto Blue Jays on May 14, 2014 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, SEPT. 24-25 - Seattle Mariners pitching coach Carl Willis reaches for some chewing tobacco during the Mariners' baseball game against the Minnesota Twins, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011, in Minneapolis. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig has revolutionized a tradition-bound sport in several ways, most notably with interleague play and the wild card. But convincing baseball players to give up a nearly two-century habit of chewing tobacco on the field or dugout is likely to prove a stickier subject. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, SEPT. 24-25 - Texas Rangers' Mike Napoli opens a can of chewing tobacco prior to a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011, in Oakland, Calif. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig has revolutionized a tradition-bound sport in several ways, most notably with interleague play and the wild card. But convincing baseball players to give up a nearly two-century habit of chewing tobacco on the field or dugout is likely to prove a stickier subject. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
TORONTO, CANADA - SEPTEMBER 25: A stadium worker picks up assorted trash including gum and chewing tobacco wads off the field after the Toronto Blue Jays MLB game against the Seattle Mariners on September 25, 2014 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
FORT MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 26: The Red Sox David Ortiz is pictured as he reaches for some chewing tobacco during practice. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FORT MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 26: The Red Sox David Ortiz is pictured as he reaches for some chewing tobacco during practice. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FORT MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 26: Red Sox pitcher Jake Peavy has chewing tobacco in his mouth that appears to be mixed with gum as he throws batting practice. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FORT MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 26: The Boston Red Sox's Jonny Gomes spits out some chewing tobacco during practice. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FILE - In this Sept. 22, 2011 file photo, Seattle Mariners pitching coach Carl Willis puts some chewing tobacco in his mouth during the Mariners' baseball game against the Minnesota Twins, in Minneapolis. Baseball's new labor deal will limit the use of smokeless tobacco by players, but not ban it during games, as some public health groups had sought. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)
FORT MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 26: The Red Sox Jonny Gomes is pictured with a wad of chewing tobacco in his cheek during practice. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Anti-smoking advocates are hoping to strike out chewing tobacco at California baseball games.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids announced Tuesday that it will sponsor legislation to ban all tobacco products at baseball venues, including Major League Baseball and organized league games.

MLB says it supports banning smokeless tobacco and the spirit of the proposal. Using chewing tobacco, known as dipping, is already prohibited in minor leagues.

The issue was highlighted by the death last June of former San Diego Padres all-star Tony Gwynn, who believed his oral cancer was linked to longtime chewing tobacco use.

"Our national pastime should be about promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, not a deadly and addictive product," said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, in a news release.

His group's push is one of several proposals in the California Legislature this year to limit the use of tobacco products, including using e-cigarettes in public and increasing the legal age to buy cigarettes to 21. Public health advocates fear the rise of alternatives to traditional cigarettes undermines the success of anti-smoking campaigns.

Tobacco groups in recent years have successfully opposed less sweeping legislation in California. A bill to ban e-cigarette vending machine sales could not pass the Legislature last year.

Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, will carry the proposed baseball tobacco ban, which would apply to players and fans for games across all levels.

Major League Baseball negotiates chewing tobacco rules with the players' union, which previously agreed to ban carrying tobacco tins during games and dipping during interviews. Union spokesman Greg Bouris says tobacco use is discouraged, but the union has no comment on the proposed legislation.

The union has signaled it's open to discussing a ban when it negotiates a new contract in two years.

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who resorted to hypnosis to break his chewing tobacco habit, credited internal efforts to reduce tobacco use in Major League Baseball.

"You learn to play with it," he said Tuesday during spring training in Arizona. "To force that, to ban it, it's going to be difficult. It's something you have to want to, you really do."

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Associated Press writer Janie McCauley contributed from Scottsdale, Ariz.

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