Dr. Richard Pan Introduces Bill to Keep Smoking Away from Youth Sports

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

February 23, 2016

SACRAMENTO – Dr. Richard Pan, a pediatrician and Senator representing the Sacramento region, joined the 8th grade class at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Elementary School in Elk Grove today to announce the introduction of SB 977, which would ban tobacco products within 250 feet from a youth sporting event. 

“Youth sports is all about developing good and healthy habits,” said Dr. Richard Pan. “Everyone on the field, bleachers and sidelines should be encouraging our young athletes to pick up life-long habits that will keep them healthy and strong. I am proud of the 8th grade class at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Elementary School for recognizing the importance of good health and working to make SB 977 state law.”

SB 977 would prohibit cigarettes, chewing tobacco, e-cigarettes and other tobacco products within 250 feet of any youth sports practice, game or other activity, where athletes under the age of 18 are present.

“Our bill, SB 977 restricts the use of tobacco within 250 feet of a youth sporting event,” said Jalen Delosreyes, a student at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Elementary School. “We want the future to be healthy and bright for all kids and we can help do that by keeping them safe from tobacco and secondhand smoke.”

“As a social studies and physical education teacher, I cannot be more proud of this group of students,” said Susan Earl-Lynn, teacher at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Elementary School. “Not only did they come up with an idea that should be law and are working hard to see it through, but the students are getting a real-life lesson that they will remember forever.”

The students, who presented the bill idea to Dr. Pan in December, are sponsoring the legislation and are already working hard and getting first-hand experience in how a bill becomes law. The students are drafting background sheets, soliciting support from other schools in California and developing a lobbying plan to sway support from lawmakers.

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the findings of their National Youth Tobacco Survey, which included more than 18,000 students in grades 6 to 12 in public and private schools around the country. The report shows that while fewer teenagers are picking up the habit, the number of teens exposed to tobacco, and secondhand smoke in particular, has not decreased.

“Elk Grove’s award-winning parks and facilities are a backdrop for our youth sports leagues that help kids pick up healthy habits,” said Rod Brewer, Board Member of the Cosumnes Community Services District.  “The leagues and sporting events are about good health and tobacco products have no place in them.”

Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk of asthma, lung infection and ear disease, among other health conditions.

Existing law generally prohibits smoking and the use of tobacco in the workplace and in and around public buildings. SB 977 will have its first policy committee hearing in April.