FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 29, 2015
CONTACT: John Schachter, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, 202-296-5469

 

Campaign to End Smokeless Tobacco Use in Baseball Gains Momentum; Several MLB Stadiums Will be Tobacco-Free by 2016 Opening Day

 

WASHINGTON, DC – With the 2015 World Series underway, there is growing momentum to take smokeless tobacco out of baseball once and for all, both to set the right example for America’s kids and for the health of the players. In recent months, several Major League cities and the state of California have taken action to make baseball tobacco-free:

  • In May, San Francisco became the first city to prohibit the use of all tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco, at all athletic fields, including AT&T Park. The law takes effect January 1, 2016.
  • In September, Boston enacted a similar prohibition on all tobacco use at sports venues, including Fenway Park. The law takes effect on April 1, 2016.
  • Also in September, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to prohibit the use of smokeless tobacco at all athletic venues, including Dodger Stadium, and directed the city attorney to draft implementing legislation. A final vote is expected later this year, and the law is expected to be in place before the start of the 2016 baseball season.
  • Earlier this month, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a statewide law that prohibits smokeless tobacco use in all public areas of stadiums. It takes effect before the 2017 baseball season.

“Our Knock Tobacco Out of the Park campaign is gaining momentum from coast to coast,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “The cities that have already made baseball tobacco-free have set an example that all Major League baseball teams should follow by 2016 Opening Day. For too long we have witnessed the impact on our nation’s youth of the use of smokeless tobacco by Major League Baseball players. Our national pastime should be about promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, not a deadly and addictive product.”

The Fall Classic is an ideal time to commit to ending the long and harmful link between tobacco and baseball due to the use of chew, dip and snuff by Major League players.

A new video on the Knock Tobacco Out of the Park campaign highlights the successes to date, and includes testimonials from former major leaguers, youth ball players, public health officials, policymakers and others echoing the call to rid baseball of tobacco once and for all.

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 like gum disease, tooth decay and mouth lesions.

According to a report issued last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), high school athletes use smokeless tobacco at nearly twice the rate of non-athletes (11.1 percent compared to 5.9 percent in 2013), and smokeless tobacco use among athletes increased from 2001 to 2013 (from 10 percent to 11.1 percent), even as smoking rates dropped significantly. Among male high school athletes, smokeless tobacco use is particularly alarming at 17.4 percent in 2013.

Smokeless tobacco companies spent more than $435 million on marketing in 2012 (the most recent year available), which is almost three times the amount they spent in 1998. Smokeless tobacco use in baseball reinforces the industry’s message that teen boys can’t be real men unless they chew.

More information on the Knock Tobacco Out of the Park campaign can be found at tobaccofreebaseball.org.

The “Knock Tobacco Out of the Park” campaign partners include the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Medical Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Oral Health America, Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund, and Truth Initiative (which is a strong supporter of tobacco-free baseball, but does not lobby and does not support or oppose specific legislation).

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Don’t just take our word for it. Major League Baseball, players, managers and teams agree that it’s time to take tobacco out of baseball.

Major League Baseball, Statement, Feb. 24, 2015
“Major League Baseball has long supported a ban of smokeless tobacco at the Major League level… We ardently believe that children should not use or be exposed to smokeless tobacco, and we support the spirit of this initiative in California and any others that would help achieve this important goal.”

Los Angeles Dodgers, Team Statement, Aug. 9, 2015
“Major League Baseball has long supported a ban of smokeless tobacco at the Major League level and the Los Angeles Dodgers fully support the Los Angeles City Tobacco ordinance and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.”

Boston Red Sox, Team Statement, Aug. 5, 2015
“We all know the horrific and tragic stories of ballplayers who have suffered the consequences of using smokeless tobacco…Our focus on baseball—and on bringing children closer to the game—fortify our resolve to cooperate in this effort.”

Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants manager, MLB.com, May 9, 2015
“It’s a step in the right direction. I think it can be a good thing.”

Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants pitcher, MLB.com, May 8, 2015
“Hopefully it will be a positive thing for us players. It’s not an easy thing to stop doing, but I support the city.”

Mike Napoli, Texas Rangers player, The Boston Globe, Aug. 5, 2015
“I totally understand we’re role models for kids and kids shouldn’t be doing that. … I will follow the law if there is one. … It’s part of baseball and has been for a long time. But I hope people don’t think we’re promoting it. That’s not anybody’s intention.”

J.P. Howell, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher, The Los Angeles Times, April 23, 2015
“I’m for it. It should be enforced. It’s common sense. It’s a filthy habit. I do it. Maybe it will help me quit.”

John Farrell, Red Sox manager, The Boston Globe, Aug. 5, 2015
“Us in uniform are examples to the youth in Boston. We recognize we’re in the public eye. I think it’s upon us to put forth a positive image.”

Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants player, CBS San Francisco, April 21, 2015
“I definitely don’t think it’s a good idea for kids, or really anybody for that matter. It’s known to cause cancer.”

Don Mattingly, Dodgers manager and former MLB player, The Los Angeles Times, April 22, 2015[On quitting chewing] “The TV is always on you, and if you’re dipping, kids are seeing it. It just got to the point where I didn’t want to be that guy.”

Curt Schilling, former Red Sox pitcher, former chewer, oral cancer survivor, Aug. 5, 2015
“If I had not seen baseball players chewing before I tried it, I would never have tried it. I would never have even thought about it…. It doesn’t belong here on little league fields. It doesn’t belong at big league parks.”

All Baseball Fans

Ask Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association to set the right example for kids and take tobacco out of baseball.

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