Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon does not agree with the city's decision to ban smokeless tobacco in sports stadiums.
"I’m into personal freedoms. … I’m not into overlegislating the human race," Maddon said Wednesday, per Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago.
As noted by Fran Spielman of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago City Council hit smokers hard by raising the minimum age from 18 to 21, outlawing discounts and putting a $6 million tax hike on tobacco products. The legislature also banned chewing tobacco in sports stadiums, a move that's increased in prevalence over the last year.
Smokeless tobacco is now banned in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Boston. Maddon noted in his interview Wednesday that while he quit smokeless tobacco 15 years ago, he doesn't believe the government should be stepping in to force players' hands.
"I know of the pitfalls, but I'm into education," Maddon said, via the Chicago Tribune. "Educate the masses and let everybody make their own decision. That's what I'm about. To tell me what I can and cannot do as an adult, unless it's illegal, is something different."
While some players will adhere to the ban, it's clear others won't. When the situation was first making the news cycle after San Francisco's ban, players seemed to indicate enforcing the law would be a futile endeavor.
"I think people would be able to get away with it," Tommy Hunter of the Cleveland Indians said last August, per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. "I'm not just specifying baseball players. But how can you police smokeless tobacco anywhere? It's going to be tough to do, but if they think they can do it, good luck."
The only way anyone knows if the bans will have an effect is to see them in action. It's a borderline unprecedented push largely aimed at curbing chewing tobacco use among youths. The product is still legal throughout the United States, and seeing ballplayers use it during game situations has been a part of the game for years.
But as we learn more about the health risks, this is an admirable push to stop whatever influence players may have had on young people trying tobacco.