Another Tobacco Bill Off to Governor

On Thursday, a bill banning smokeless tobacco at major league baseball stadiums in California passed its final legislative hurdle, an Assembly concurrence floor vote, and now is on its way to the governor’s desk for a signature.

AB 768, by Assembly member Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond), has almost been lost among the six other anti-tobacco bills currently making their way through the Legislature by way of the special legislative session on health.

The other bills include a bill to regulate e-cigarettes and another to change the legal smoking age from 18 to 21 — both of which passed a Senate floor vote on Thursday.

Thurmond’s bill went through the more traditional — and in this case, extremely lengthy — committee process, and the bill’s scope was significantly trimmed along the way.

“This bill … is all about kids,” Thurmond said during Thursday’s Assembly concurrence floor vote. “We are concerned about what they see from major league players, and keeping tobacco out of their view.”

When it first was announced in February, Thurmond hoped to ban all tobacco products from all baseball parks, including major-league, minor-league, youth and school leagues.

The original bill read: “The Tobacco-Free Baseball Act will apply to baseball games at all levels, including the major and minor leagues, all interscholastic and intermural play, and organized leagues for youth or adults. It will cover the players, the fans and anyone in the venue during a baseball game or related activity.”

But after the legislative committees got through with it — particularly the Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization, which is known for being comparatively hostile to anti-tobacco bills — Thurmond’s bill had been whittled to only targeting players, only focusing on major-league stadiums and only banning smokeless tobacco.

The bill passed the Assembly on Thursday on a 46-18 floor vote. It would take effect after next baseball season, in December 2016.

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