It is time to take tobacco out of baseball for good – to set the right example for America’s kids and protect the health of the players.

For years, find public health leaders have urged Major League Baseball (MLB) and the MLB Players Association to end smokeless tobacco use in baseball, but they have not done so. To protect our kids, cities and states must now act and prohibit all tobacco use at baseball venues across the country. Players’ use of smokeless tobacco sets a terrible example for millions of impressionable youth. Our national pastime should be about promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, not a deadly and addictive product.

San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City have recently passed ordinances prohibiting smokeless tobacco use at sporting venues, including their major league stadiums. 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, and other MLB cities are considering similar measures.

Download our fact sheet and watch our video to learn more about the campaign.



Recent headlines have driven home the seriousness of the problem. In 2014, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn died at age 54 from salivary gland cancer. Shortly after, pitching great Curt Schilling went public about his treatment for oral cancer. Both players attributed their health battles to their longtime use of smokeless tobacco. Their experiences generated widespread media coverage and calls to take tobacco out of baseball.

newyorktimesThe ban went into effect immediately, making Wednesday night’s game between the Yankees and the Houston Astros the first time players were prohibited from using the substance at a major league game.

The New York Times
April 6, 2016

bostonglobeIn Boston, the rules cover the city’s baseball parks and other professional and amateur sports venues. Event organizers are responsible for overseeing compliance, and violators can be fined $250 for each offense…. “We are not going to be running on the field to issue citations,” said Boston Police Lieutenant Detective Michael McCarthy, a department spokesman. “The purpose of this ordinance is to encourage those who are looked up to as role models to be role models.”

Boston Globe
April 5, 2016

CNNNew York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is knocking smokeless tobacco products out of the park, giving both fans and players less to chew on. The crackdown will be in sports venues and recreational areas that issue tickets across the city, including Citi Field (home of the Mets) and Yankee Stadium. The measure, which will extend a prohibition on smoking to include the use of all tobacco products, was signed into law by de Blasio on Wednesday.

April 6, 2016

espn-logoFines from cities with new smokeless tobacco bans at ballparks won’t be the only penalties violators could face, according to a senior Major League Baseball official. “Players or anybody in baseball found to have violated a law are subject to discipline from the commissioner,” MLB chief legal counsel Dan Halem told “Outside the Lines.” “Smokeless tobacco laws are no different.”

March 27, 2016

Get the Facts

The widespread use of smokeless tobacco in baseball helps to promote a product that can lead to nicotine addiction and causes cancer, as well as other health problems. Given this terrible example, it’s no surprise that too many kids are using smokeless tobacco. The latest surveys show that 14.7 percent of high school boys (and 8.8 percent of all high school students) reported current use of smokeless tobacco products. Here are reasons why baseball and tobacco shouldn’t mix:

REASON #1: Smokeless tobacco is harmful to health
Public health authorities including the Surgeon General and the National Cancer Institute have found that smokeless tobacco use is hazardous to health and can lead to nicotine addiction. Smokeless tobacco contains at least 28 cancer-causing chemicals and causes oral, pancreatic and esophageal cancer. Use of smokeless tobacco is also associated with other health problems including lesions in the mouth and tooth decay.
REASON #2: Too many kids are using smokeless tobacco
Even as cigarette use continues a steady decline among youth, smokeless tobacco use has remained troublingly steady. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the use of smokeless tobacco among youth has held steady since 1999. In 2015, 11.9 percent of high-school boys and 7.3 percent of all high-school students reported current use of smokeless tobacco products. A September 2015 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report found that high school athletes use smokeless tobacco at nearly twice the rate of non-athletes, and smokeless tobacco use among athletes increased 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. Each year, about half a million kids age 12-17 use smokeless tobacco for the first time.
REASON #3: Tobacco use in baseball reinforces tobacco marketing
Smokeless tobacco companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to get young people to use their products. In fact, marketing and promotional expenditures for the top five smokeless tobacco companies totaled more than $503 million in 2013 (the most recent year available), more than triple the amount spent in 1998. Smokeless tobacco continues to be heavily advertised in magazines with large youth readerships, often with a message telling teen boys they can’t be real men without smokeless tobacco. The ads have tag lines like “May cause the urge to act like a man.” Smokeless tobacco use in baseball reinforces that message.
REASON #4: Professional baseball players are role models for youth
An expert from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that, “Professional athletes in certain sports, including baseball . . . have traditionally had high levels of smokeless tobacco use. Athletes serve as role models for youth, and smokeless tobacco manufacturers have used advertising, images, and testimonials featuring athletes and sports to make smokeless tobacco products appear attractive to youth. Children and teens closely observe athletes’ actions, including their use of tobacco products, and are influenced by what they see. Adolescents tend to mimic the behaviors of those they look up to and identify with, including baseball players and other athletes.”


* Truth Initiative is a strong supporter of tobacco-free baseball, but does not lobby and does not support or oppose specific legislation.





All Baseball Fans

Tell MLB/Players Association to take tobacco out of baseball.

Washington, DC Residents

Tell City Council to prohibit tobacco use in baseball venues.

Minnesota Residents

Tell legislators to prohibit tobacco use in baseball venues.

Chicago Residents

Thank the City Council for passing the tobacco-free baseball bill!

New York City Residents

Thank the City Council for passing the tobacco-free baseball bill!


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