Boston bans chewing tobacco in ballparks, including Fenway
The Boston City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to ban smokeless tobacco and other tobacco products at all professional and amateur sports venues — including Fenway Park.
The ban, to take effect April 1, 2016, was proposed by Mayor Martin J. Walsh. It will end the longstanding practice by baseball players with wads of chewing tobacco in their cheeks.
The vote makes Boston the second city to institute such a prohibition, after San Francisco put one in place in January. The Los Angeles City Council is also considering a ban.
“These great baseball cities have set a powerful example that should be quickly followed by all of Major League Baseball,” said a statement from Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Professional athletes, the statement continued, “are role models for impressionable youth. When baseball stars use smokeless tobacco, the kids who look up to them are much more likely to do so as well.”
Red Sox owner John Henry, who owns The Boston Globe, said in an interview last month that he supports the ban.
Of 58 Red Sox players surveyed during spring training last year, 21 said they used smokeless tobacco.
The Boston ordinance prohibits smokeless tobacco and other tobacco products at sites used for professional, collegiate, high school, and amateur events, including open spaces, enclosed structures, and stadium parking lots. Signs describing the ban must be posted at every entrance and in dugouts, bullpens, training rooms, locker rooms, press boxes, and restrooms. Violations carry a $250 fine per offense.
State law bans smoking in workplaces and public places, including stadiums.
Proponents of the smokeless-tobacco ban, including medical professionals who spoke at a City Council hearing last month, described the health hazards of tobacco and said that smokeless tobacco has been marketed to youth and often leads to smoking.
While cigarette smoking has declined, young people continue to use smokeless tobacco. A 2013 survey of Boston high school students found an increase in the use of chewing tobacco, snuff, or dip, a finely ground and moistened tobacco product. Statewide surveys indicate that 7 percent of youths used smokeless tobacco in the month before the survey.
Smokeless tobacco has been linked to oral, pancreatic, and esophageal cancer, as well as gum disease, tooth decay, and mouth lesions.