Bill to Kick Tobacco Off Our Fields, Courts & Bleachers Passes State Assembly

Idea for SB 977 came from the 8th grade class at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Elementary School in Elk Grove

August 18, 2016

SACRAMENTO – Senate Bill 977 authored by Dr. Richard Pan, and sponsored by the 8th grade class at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Elementary School in Elk Grove overwhelmingly passed the California State Assembly today.  SB 977 would prohibit the use of tobacco products within 250 feet from a youth sporting event. 

“Youth sports is about developing good and healthy habits and smoking is the exact opposite of that,” said Dr. Richard Pan, a pediatrician and Senator representing the Sacramento region. “The students at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Elementary School proved their leadership abilities in sponsoring this important bill and learned important lessons about democracy as they skillfully advocated for the good health of youth athletes and their peers.”

SB 977 would prohibit any person located in the same park or facility where a youth sporting event is taking place, from using tobacco products. The bill specifies that the restriction does not apply to the use of tobacco on private property. 

“Tobacco products should be far away from students when they are playing youth sports,” said Elizabeth Hinton, one of the former students at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Elementary School who brought the measure to Dr. Pan. “I was proud to be one of the students who presented the bill to Senator Pan and thrilled when he said he would carry it in the state legislature. Passing this law will send a strong message that smoking isn’t for kids.”

“As a Physical Education and Social Studies Teacher, I am so proud of the St Elizabeth 8th grade class of 2016 who developed the bill idea and worked with Senator Pan this year,” said Susan Earl-Lynn, teacher at St Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School. "How many 8th grade student get to experience government in action? They will remember this opportunity forever.”

The students presented the bill idea to Dr. Pan in December and are sponsoring the legislation.  The students have lobbied for its passage, drafted materials and solicited support from other schools. The students have been working hard for the last several weeks to gain passage of the bill. 

Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk of asthma, lung infection and ear disease, among other health conditions. Ninety percent of adult smokers begin while in their teens, or earlier; and two-thirds became regular, daily smokers before they reached the age of 19.

Existing law generally prohibits smoking and the use of tobacco in the workplace, in and around public buildings and playgrounds. SB 977 will be heard next in the State Senate.

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