Smokers at youth sports events will have to take a break from the game and walk a couple hundred feet away to light up, under a new California law. That idea wasn’t from a lawmaker trying to score political points – but from an eighth-grade social studies class in Elk Grove.
Sue Earl-Lynn has taught at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School in Elk Grove for 18 years. But last year was her first time teaching social studies – to 34 kids. When she had the class start drafting mock bills, the activity just kept escalating.
One of the students’ parents, a lobbyist, came and spoke with the class. That led to a visit from State Senator Richard Pan, a pediatrician. Soon the class kicked into gear doing research, speaking at the Legislature, and lobbying for support.
“These kids, their whole life, will now look at this bill and go ‘I had a part of this,’” Earl-Lynn says. “But for each one of them, it means something different. And that’s really what education is. And that for me is the highlight of this whole thing.”
The new law says anyone smoking within 250 feet of a youth sports event on public property is subject to a $250 fine. It follows on the heels of another law separating tobacco from sports, that’s just taking effect. That one bars major-league baseball players from chewing tobacco on the field.