New York, New York, It’s a Helluva… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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New York, New York, It’s a Helluva (Tobacco-Free) Town

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
March 22, 2016


WASHINGTON, DC – With the start of the 2016 Major League Baseball season less than two weeks away, New York has sent a strong signal to the rest of the league and the rest of the country that it’s time to take tobacco out of baseball once and for all. The City Council, by an overwhelming vote of 44-3, voted today to prohibit the use of all tobacco products – including smokeless tobacco like chew, dip and snuff – at all ticketed sporting events within the city. The measure will cover Yankee Stadium and Citi Field.

Our national pastime should be about promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, not a deadly and addictive product. Today’s vote sends the right message to youth that chewing tobacco is dangerous and should not be an accepted part of sports culture. It also provides further momentum for our nationwide campaign to get tobacco out of baseball for kids, the players and the future.

We applaud Council Member Corey Johnson for stepping up to the plate on behalf of this important legislation and protecting the health of our children. Council Member Johnson has led the fight for tobacco-free baseball to set the right example for America’s youth and for the health of the players. The legislation sends a simple and powerful message to kids: baseball and tobacco don’t mix.

New York joins San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles and Chicago in enacting similar measures. The first three of these laws will be in effect by the start of the 2016 baseball season; Chicago’s will take effect before this season’s All Star break. A statewide law in California will take effect before the 2017 season. With the nation’s largest city and home to two storied franchises moving to rid baseball of the stain of tobacco, the cause is destined to get even more serious and deserved attention across the country.

Johnson’s proposal will apply to baseball games and other sporting events at all levels within city limits that require a ticket for admission and will cover players, fans and anyone in the entire venue during a baseball game or other sports or recreation activity. The law will take effect immediately following the mayor’s signature. We look forward to Mayor De Blasio signing this measure into law.

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 such as gum disease, tooth decay and mouth lesions. Even as cigarette use continues a steady decline among youth, smokeless tobacco use has remained troublingly steady. Among male high school athletes, smokeless tobacco use is particularly alarming at 17.4 percent in 2013.

Today’s action is particularly timely. The Federal Trade Commission released a report earlier today that showed a 15 percent increase in marketing spending by the major manufacturers of smokeless tobacco products in the United States from 2012 to 2013. These new numbers show the smokeless tobacco industry spending more than half a billion dollars a year to promote their dangerous wares.

It’s time for Major League Baseball and its players to accept the inevitable, set the right example for our kids and promptly agree to prohibit smokeless tobacco use at all major league ballparks.

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