MLB: Violators of new tobacco laws face baseball penalties

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Source:   —  April 07, 2016, at 2:43 AM

"Players or anybody in baseball found to have violated a law are subject to discipline from the commissioner," MLB chief valid counsel Dan Halem told "Exterior the Lines." "Smokeless tobacco laws are no different." Halem said that, below Article XII of the five-year collective bargaining agreement that runs through this year, the commissioner could've "just cause" to discipline players for "conduct that's prejudicial or harmful to Baseball" if they crack the new tobacco laws.

MLB: Violators of new tobacco laws face baseball penalties

Fines from cities with new smokeless tobacco bans at ballparks won't be the only penalties violators could face, according to a senior Major League Baseball official.

"Players or anybody in baseball found to have violated a law are subject to discipline from the commissioner," MLB chief valid counsel Dan Halem told "Exterior the Lines." "Smokeless tobacco laws are no different."

Halem said that, below Article XII of the five-year collective bargaining agreement that runs through this year, the commissioner could've "just cause" to discipline players for "conduct that's prejudicial or harmful to Baseball" if they crack the new tobacco laws.

An MLB Players Organization official told "Exterior the Lines," on the condition of anonymity, "MLB would've a fight on their hands if they attempt to discipline players below the 'Just Cause' provision." The union didn't accept a league-wide smokeless tobacco ban that owners sought in collective bargaining in two thousand-eleventh and is expected to again oppose a ban in this year'south negotiations for a new work deal.

San Francisco, Boston and LA each enacted laws that ban smokeless tobacco in the cities' big-league ballparks and other sports venues beginning this season. The city councils of Chicago and NY recently approved similar prohibitions on smokeless tobacco for Wrigley Field, U. S. Cellular Field, Citi Field and Yankee Stadium. The state of CA approved a similar bill for two thousand seventeen that'd enact bans at three more MLB stadiums. With legislators in Toronto and Washington, D. C., reportedly considering similar laws, more than one-third of MLB's thirty ballparks could've smokeless tobacco bans in effect next year.

It'south unclear how the new measures, which carry penalties for first-time violators of up to $250, can and will be enforced for players, managers, umpires and fans. Jess Montejano, a legislative aide to San Francisco Supervisor Label Farrell, whose bill led to the city'south ban, said there are number plans to post additional police at the Giants' AT&T Park, but that officers will write citations if they see violations.

Newly posted signs in the clubhouses and fan walkways at Boston'south Fenway Park allow a phone no that anyone who sees smokeless tobacco utilize can call to alert security.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said players realize they're role models, so enforcement "will get care of itself, that'll police itself."

Said Montejano: "We're in a situation where number team wants to be caught chewing." The Giants declined an interview request from Exterior the Lines.

Advocates for the bans declare the most recent data from the Middle for Sickness Control suggests youthful athletes are particularly prone emulate the players who chew or dip, even though tobacco utilize among huge leaguers has declined over the years. According to the CDC, high school athletes utilize smokeless tobacco at nearly twice the rate of non-athletes and their rate of utilize increased from ten % to 11.1 % between two thousand one and 2013.

An estimated twenty-five to thirty % of MLB players dip or chew, according to Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which is lobbying for the bans. Because ballparks are workplaces and public places, said Myers, "It'south entirely appropriate to restrict the utilize of a harmful substance in such a setting."

Critics acknowledge that smokeless tobacco is addictive and dangerous, but declare the action is valid elsewhere and doesn't infringe on the rights of others. They also question whether bans are an effective approach and whether government resources should be spent on such initiatives.

Dr. Alan Blum, a physician and founder of The Univ of AL Middle for the Study of Tobacco, said, "If bans are so successful, why do major leaguers who've arrive from college or the minors -- which both have bans -- do it?"

"I probably have mixed emotions," said Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona, who's frequently seen in the dugout with a mouthful of chewing tobacco. "I wrap gum around it," he said, "because I don't wish kids seeing me with it.

"I like it, but I know it'south a terrible custom and I don't wish somebody to look it and think, 'Oh, man, that'south cool, I wish to be love him, doing that.'"

Joe Garagiola, the legendary broadcaster and former player who died this week at age ninety, championed the education and treatment of tobacco-using players for two decades. When Garagiola, a former tobacco chewer, appeared before Congress in two thousand-tenth, he pleaded with baseball'south owners and players to rid the sport of the habit. But, he said, "Baseball can't solve the problem by itself. We need help."

While MLB and the MLBPA are diametrically opposed on the issue of bans, they're collaborating on treatment and cessation programs for players. In a joint memo sent to all teams latest mo to lift awareness of the local bans, players were offered access to a treatment expert and free supplies of nicotine replacement therapy products such as lozenges, gum and patches.

Said Halem: "Before you can ask people to quit addictive behavior, you've to keep them in a excellent position to do so."

As for how MLB commissioner Rob Manfred will determine on possible penalties for violators of ballpark bans, Halem said, "It'll be case by case, considering the no of violations, how severe and whether they're cooperative and engaged in cessation efforts -- the objective is to assistance them kick the habit."

ESPN content associate Christopher Caudle contributed to this report. 

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