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Smokeless Tobacco Now Banned At Major Sports Venues in NYC


Author: Shernide Delva

When I think of the early years of baseball, I think of old black and white documentaries shown in grade school. I think of players like Babe Ruth and many others. However, when I think of baseball,  I also think of players with chewing tobacco in their mouth.

Since the rules for baseball were introduced in 1845, chewing tobacco was rampant among baseball players. The two were practically synonymous with each other. Chewing tobacco was used among coaches and baseball players alike. Baseball players loved the stuff because it kept “their mouths moist on the dusty infield.” The use of chewing tobacco increased steadily into the mid-20th century. Eventually, cigarettes replaced chewing tobacco and nowadays, baseball players tend to dip their tobacco rather than chew it.

Many famous baseball players of that time like Babe Ruth and Tony Gwynn died of cancers and complications from using smokeless tobacco products. Bill Tuttle was one of the first major league baseball players to come out with an anti-chewing tobacco campaign Tuttle developed a tumor so severe; it protruded through his skin. He ended up having to get several teeth, his jawbone, his gums, and right cheekbone removed and even had his taste buds removed. He spent the rest the last years of his life fighting to prevent players and children from being influenced to smoke. He also dedicated time to the National Spit Tobacco Education Program, which worked to raise awareness of the problem.

With all that being said, Tuttle would have been pleased to hear that NYC Major Bill de Blasio has banned the use of smokeless tobacco at all major sports venues.  The decision was confirmed last Wednesday when the mayor issued the city-wide ban.

The new laws will extend the smoking ban to include all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and chewing tobacco. The ban is not just limited to sports venues either. Major venues like Madison Square Garden will also be affected. Both fans and players alike are required to abide by these new policies.

“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.

So what do the teams think about this? Both the Mets and the Yankees express their support for the ban. A statement released by the Mets states:

“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.”

Also, a spokesperson for Major League Baseball responded to CNN that the organization already had “long supported a ban of smokeless tobacco at the Major League level.” The spokesperson continued to say that similar efforts were made in other cities as well. San Francisco, for example, was first to ban tobacco in sports venues in May. California is expected to have a statewide ban starting next year. Throughout the nation, similar restrictions are being introduced in Washington, D.C

Just like cigarettes, when smokeless tobacco products like chewing tobacco were introduced to MLB, people simply were not aware of how harmful the stuff was. Now that we have decades of evidence supporting the harmful effects of chewing tobacco, it makes sense that organizations like the MLB want to set a good example.

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.

A CDC report released last September revealed the despite overall decreases in smoking, the overall consumption of smokeless tobacco products have increased. Furthermore, high school athletes were found to be using smokeless tobacco more regularly than non-athletes.

The health implications of smokeless tobacco are beyond clear at this point. How do you feel about these new bans? If you need help quitting any dependence to substances, we are here to help. Give us a call now. 

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