Lawmaker introduces smokeless tobacco ban for Target Field

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With time quickly running out in the 2016 Legislative session, new legislation could ban the use of smokeless tobacco at professional sports stadiums in Minnesota.

The bill was introduced Monday by Rep. Mike Freiberg, DFL-Golden Valley. It would ban the use of tobacco at Target Field, CHS Field and other professional sports stadiums in Minnesota.

"We need to make smokeless tobacco use in baseball a remnant of the past – and Minnesota should be proud to play a role in that movement," said Freiberg Monday. "By allowing smokeless tobacco at the ballparks, we send the absolute wrong message about tobacco use. It's time to take tobacco out of the game completely for the good of baseball and the health of our kids and players alike."

The idea isn't a new one. In fact tobacco is banned at parks in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Boston while similar proposals are being considered in Chicago and New York.

"I grew up watching the Twins, and it seems like the right time to stop seeing players with a wad of chew in their mouths," Freiberg said.

"In general, Major League Baseball and the Twins are supportive of legislative efforts and any efforts to ban smokeless tobacco," Twins president Dave St. Peter told the Pioneer Press. "It's long been baseball's position that it's something we'd like to get out of our game."

There may be bigger fish to fry during what's left of the legislative session, though. A transportation bill, tax bill and a bonding bill all still unresolved and less than a week remains before lawmakers are required by the state Constitution to adjourn.

The Pioneer Press notes the odds are pretty long for the tobacco ban, but one possible way it could pass is if it were added as an amendment to the Major League Soccer stadium bill for St. Paul's Midway neighborhood, which is already moving through the Legislature.

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