By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS
With the end of this baseball season, so ended the long intertwined history of tobacco and baseball at more than one-third of all Major League stadiums.
The unhealthy coupling started unraveling when it became evident that chewing tobacco resulted in deadly consequences for some players, such as legendary San Diego Padre Tony Gwynn who died of mouth cancer in 2014.
Just months after Gwynn’s death, former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling announced he was being treated for oral cancer.
Although Major League Baseball and the players’ union could not agree to take action, several cities have.
Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco all have passed laws prohibiting tobacco use of any kind at sports venues. A statewide law in California will take effect before the 2017 season begins.
This week, the Washington, D.C., City Council gave final approval to a measure that would end the use of all tobacco products – including smokeless tobacco like chew, dip and snuff – at all organized sporting events within the city, including Nationals Park.
Councilmember Yvette Alexander said the move is needed to help protect children, who often look to sports professionals as role models, from taking up the habit.
The measure will now be sent to Mayor Muriel Bowser to sign into law.
Additionally, on Oct. 20, St. Petersburg, Florida, City Council Vice Chair Darden Rice introduced a proposal to ban smokeless tobacco products from the city’s athletic venues. The proposal includes Tropicana Stadium, the home of the Tampa Bay Rays. Rice said she hopes the proposal would clear before the start of the 2017 season.
Legislation is also currently under consideration in Toronto and the state of Minnesota.
“Our national pastime should be about promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, not a deadly and addictive product,” said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.