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Opening Day: Brewers Knock Tobacco Out of Park

Milwaukee's Miller Park has become the 12th Major League Baseball stadium to prohibit smokeless tobacco. (wellesenterprises/iStockphoto)
Milwaukee's Miller Park has become the 12th Major League Baseball stadium to prohibit smokeless tobacco. (wellesenterprises/iStockphoto)
April 3, 2017

MILWAUKEE – The Milwaukee Brewers open their home season Monday afternoon against the Colorado Rockies, and this year there's a big change at Miller Park.

A new city ordinance prohibits any tobacco use at Miller Park and all other city of Milwaukee sports venues.

State law already prohibits smoking, but this new city ordinance takes it a step farther and prohibits all forms of tobacco.

Violators can be fined up to $250.

Anneke Mohr, the city's Tobacco Free Alliance coordinator, says this should send an important message to fans and players.

"People grow up playing baseball, they grow up coming to Miller Park to watch the Brewers, and when they see the players chewing tobacco on the field, that's sending a really unhealthy message to youth,” she states. “We know that for male high school athletes in Wisconsin, smokeless tobacco use is actually increasing."

Mohr says baseball players are role models and heroes to children, who mimic their behavior. She says pro athletes should set a healthy example for kids, rather than teaching them to dip and spit.

According to Mohr, a lot of young people believe that smokeless tobacco is safer than traditional cigarettes, but she points out that any tobacco use is dangerous and smokeless tobacco is far from safe.

"There's actually 28 cancer causing chemicals in smokeless tobacco,” she points out. “It has nicotine which is addictive and it can cause a variety of cancers: oral cancer, cancer of the esophagus, and pancreatic cancer, in addition to increasing the risk for heart disease and stroke."

Mohr adds that there have been plenty of cases of poisoning in children, because of the toxins in smokeless tobacco.

Mohr says Bud Selig, the former Brewers owner and former baseball commissioner, is firmly behind the city's new ordinance, and says Selig pioneered getting smokeless tobacco out of minor league baseball.

She says almost 10 percent of Wisconsin youth have tried smokeless tobacco and 4 percent are regular users, and hopefully the new ordinance will help them make better choices.

"For that t-ball team that's coming to a game this summer, maybe that will make them less likely to use smokeless tobacco when they're the high school athlete, and for the players, when they reach retirement, hopefully they can actually enjoy their retirement instead of having to undergo chemotherapy,” she states. “So it's really a good thing for everybody."

For help in quitting tobacco, call 800-LUNG-USA.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI