Jan. 26 2016
LOS ANGELES, CA (Jan. 26, 2016) – The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously today (14-0) to approve an ordinance outlawing the use of smokeless tobacco products at all baseball fields and other athletic venues in the City of Los Angeles, both to set the right example for America’s youth and for the health of the players. The Los Angeles Dodgers have publicly supported the City Council’s efforts to eliminate smokeless tobacco use, and the new ordinance will be in effect before the 2016 baseball season gets underway at Dodger Stadium, where the ban covers players, team staff, personnel and fans alike.
The ordinance was spearheaded through legislation introduced in June by Councilmember José Huizar (District 14) with the support of several of his colleagues, including Councilmembers David Ryu, Mitch O’Farrell and Paul Koretz, as well as public health advocates.
It is the latest victory for the “Knock Tobacco Out of the Park” campaign to promote tobacco-free baseball and reduce smokeless tobacco use among kids. Los Angeles joins San Francisco and Boston in cities the campaign has successfully worked with to implement smokeless tobacco bans.
“I want to thank my colleagues, the Knock Tobacco Out of the Park campaign and the Los Angeles Dodgers for recognizing that smokeless tobacco use in the great American pastime is way past its time,” said Councilmember Huizar, author of the motion. “As the father of a cancer survivor, I will do everything in my power to prevent another family from going through that horrible experience. Tobacco is not cool, it’s deadly and it kills people. It is our great hope that this leads to other cities, Major League Baseball and the great players we all admire to follow suit and do what is right for the health of the players, fans and the good of the game.”
The Los Angeles Dodgers are an organization with a storied history of bringing positive changes to baseball that have had implications well outside the world of sports. Before the full City Council voted on the legislation in September, the Dodgers issued a statement in full support of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the City of Los Angeles’ smokeless tobacco ordinance.
L.A. City Councilmember Paul Koretz seconded Councilmember Huizar’s motion.
“By banning the use of smokeless tobacco at venues where sports are played in Los Angeles, we take another step forward in keeping our public and especially young people healthier and safe from harm," said Councilmember Koretz.
L.A. City Councilmember David Ryu chairs the City’s Health, Mental Health and Education committee, which considered the ordinance.
"Our kids shouldn’t be forced to watch the sports heroes they trust using tobacco on our little league fields, in Dodger stadium or on television,” said Councilmember Ryu. “It’s important we hold professional athletes accountable when it comes to protecting our children and neighborhoods.”
L.A. City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell is Vice-Chair of the City’s Health Committee and Chair of the Arts, Parks, and Los Angeles River Committee.
“This new ordinance will assist in the efforts to make our City facilities some of the healthiest and safest places for all Angelenos,” said Councilmember O’Farrell. “This ordinance will do more to protect our families from the bonds of nicotine addiction, and I applaud my Council colleague José Huizar and the City Attorney for their collaborative work to promote healthier living in Los Angeles.”
In May 2015, San Francisco became the first city in the nation to eliminate smokeless tobacco at its athletic fields, and Boston passed similar legislation in September 2015. All three ordinances will be in place before the 2016 season. The movement to take tobacco out of baseball is in full swing, and the big question is: Which city will step up to the plate and be next?
"Today’s action by the Los Angeles City Council provides tremendous momentum to take tobacco out of baseball as we approach the 2016 season,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “This ordinance will save lives by reducing the number of young people who start to use smokeless tobacco because they follow the example of their favorite Major Leaguers. Our national pastime should be about promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, not a deadly and addictive product. We applaud Councilmember Huizar for introducing this important legislation, as well as Councilmembers Ryu, O’Farrell and Koretz for their support in protecting the health of our children."
At a Los Angeles City Council meeting in September, where that body also voted 14-0 to write the smokeless tobacco ban ordinance, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids played a video highlighting the urgency and success of the “Knock Tobacco Out of the Park” campaign, featuring political leaders, public health advocates, little league players and other supporters. That video can be viewed online and downloaded here.
Health authorities have found that smokeless tobacco use is hazardous to health and can lead to nicotine addiction. Smokeless tobacco contains at least 28 known carcinogens and causes oral, pancreatic and esophageal cancer, as well as other serious health problems like gum disease, tooth decay and mouth lesions.
According to a report issued in September by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), high school athletes use smokeless tobacco at nearly twice the rate of non-athletes (11.1 percent compared to 5.9 percent in 2013), and smokeless tobacco use among athletes increased from 2001 to 2013 (from 10 percent to 11.1 percent), even as smoking rates dropped significantly. Among male high school athletes, smokeless tobacco use is particularly alarming at 17.4 percent in 2013.
Smokeless tobacco companies spent more than $435 million on marketing in 2012 (the most recent year available), which is almost three times the amount they spent in 1998.
For years, leading health organizations have called for an end to smokeless tobacco in baseball. A number of groups mounted a major campaign in 2010-2011 that made some significant strides – including securing a prohibition on players carrying tobacco tins in their uniforms and using smokeless tobacco during TV interviews. But these restrictions did not eliminate smokeless tobacco use at ballparks.
More information on the Knock Tobacco Out of the Park campaign can be found at tobaccofreebaseball.org.