Tobacco-Free Baseball Cities Go… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Tobacco-Free Baseball Cities Go 5-for-5 in Making Post Season

October 06, 2016

Washington, DC — Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco — the five Major League Baseball cities that have eliminated smokeless tobacco completely in their ballparks — all qualified for the 2016 post season, which got underway this week. Of the other 23 cities, all of which currently allow smokeless use, fewer than 22 percent made the playoffs.

We’re not necessarily alleging a causal relationship, BUT ...

  • 5 of 5 cities (100 percent) that have prohibited smokeless tobacco in their ballparks made the post season.
  • All 4 tobacco-free NL teams (100 percent) made the post season.
  • 5 of 7 teams (71 percent) representing those cites made the post season.
  • 5 of all 10 playoff teams (50 percent) represent tobacco-free cities and ballparks.
  • 1 of 3 tobacco-free AL teams (33 percent) made it.
  • Of the remaining 5 cities represented, both Washington, D.C. and Toronto (40 percent) are actively considering tobacco-free baseball measures.
  • Only 3 of 10 cities represented in the post season (just 30 percent) have taken no action to date toward ending the use of smokeless tobacco at baseball facilities within their jurisdictions.

'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. 'These cities are sending the right message that baseball players are role models for our nation’s youth and that chewing tobacco is dangerous and should not be an accepted part of sports culture.'

It’s long past time for Major League Baseball and its players to set the right example for our kids and promptly agree to prohibit smokeless tobacco use at all Major League ballparks. As more and more Major League cities becoming tobacco-free, the only question is when all baseball will become tobacco-free. In addition to the five cities noted above, a statewide law in California will take effect before the 2017 season. Once all of these laws are implemented, one-third of Major League stadiums will be tobacco-free.

'Our progress has been amazing,” added Myers. “Less than 18 months after San Francisco became the first city to take tobacco out of baseball, we’re in the midst of tobacco-free playoffs and could even have our first tobacco-free World Series. The message is clear — there is simply no place for chew, dip or snuff in the game of baseball. And the results of this season demonstrate clearly that any claims that getting rid of smokeless tobacco would hurt player performance just have not come true.”

Baseball is increasingly a game of advanced statistics. The Elias Sports Bureau, Sabermetric analysis, Statcast data and more — they’ve all analyzed baseball to the nth degree. But it doesn’t take a statistician trained in advanced calculus to see that tobacco-free baseball is the wave of the future, if not the present.

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The Knock Tobacco Out of the Park campaign, a coalition of public health and medical organizations, has advocated for tobacco-free baseball. Other key facts in support of the campaign include:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that high school athletes use smokeless tobacco at nearly twice the rate of non-athletes, and smokeless tobacco use among athletes increased more than 11 percent from 2001 to 2013, even as smoking rates dropped significantly. Among male high school athletes, smokeless tobacco use is particularly alarming at 17.4 percent in 2013.
  • Public health experts – including the CDC, U.S. Surgeon General, U.S. National Cancer Institute and World Health Organization – have all concluded that smokeless tobacco use is dangerous. Smokeless tobacco contains at least 28 known carcinogens and causes oral, pancreatic and esophageal cancer. The product also causes nicotine addiction and other serious health problems like gum disease, tooth decay and mouth lesions.
  • Smokeless tobacco manufacturers spent more than $500 million on marketing in 2013 (the most recent data available), driving home the message that teen boys cannot be real men unless they chew. The link between baseball and chewing tobacco reinforces this message.
  • Baseball stadiums are workplaces and public places. It is entirely appropriate to restrict the use of a harmful substance in such a setting. While players are on the job, they have a responsibility to set the right example for kids. These measures do not affect what players can do off the field in their personal lives, although they are encouraged to quit using tobacco for their own health.