NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Bans Smokeless Tobacco At Major Sports Venues

By McCarton Ackerman 04/11/16
Players will face a penalty from the city if they don't adhere to the ban.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Bans Smokeless Tobacco At Major Sports Venues
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As of last week, players, coaches and managers for the New York Yankees and the New York Mets could be penalized if they use smokeless tobacco at Yankee Stadium or Citi Field. Last Wednesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a citywide ban on smokeless tobacco products at sports venues.

The new law extends the smoking ban (which, of course, applies to fans as well) to include all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and chewing tobacco. The ban not only affects sports venues but also other places in the city that issue tickets, like Madison Square Garden.

"It's very important for the health of our players, and for the city as a whole," the mayor told ESPN in March. "Young people look up to baseball players, and they look up to all athletes, and we want to protect everyone's health."

Both the Mets and the Yankees expressed their support for the ban. "Preventing children from being exposed to smokeless tobacco is an important initiative and we are glad to play our part in achieving this important goal," reads a statement issued by the Mets. Meanwhile, a spokesman for Major League Baseball told CNN that the organization "has long supported a ban of smokeless tobacco at the Major League level."

The spokesman said the MLB supports similar efforts in other cities as well. Some have already succeeded. San Francisco was the first major city to ban smokeless tobacco in sports venues last May, while California is aiming for a statewide ban to take effect beginning next year. Council members in Washington, D.C. also introduced a bill this month to establish similar restrictions at sports venues throughout the nation’s capital.

Tom Friedman, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, noted that smokeless tobacco products “can cause cancer of the mouth, esophagus and pancreas. And the nicotine in these products is harmful to the developing brain.” The effects of these products on young people are particularly noteworthy; a CDC study released last September found that despite a drop in smoking, overall consumption of smokeless tobacco products had increased. And perhaps surprisingly, the study also found that high school athletes are using smokeless tobacco more regularly than non-athletes.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.