For Immediate Release: April 6, 2016
Contact: John Schachter (202) 296-5469
If We Can Make It There, We’ll Make It Anywhere, There’s No More Chew, New York, New York
Tonight Yankee Stadium Will Host First Tobacco-Free MLB Game
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yankee Stadium, old and new, has been home to many historic firsts – from Babe Ruth’s record-breaking 60th home run to Don Larsen’s World Series perfect game; from Roger Maris breaking the Babe’s single-season home run record to Derek Jeter becoming the first Yankee to 3,000 hits. Tonight Yankee Stadium will witness another milestone: The first tobacco-free regular season game in the history of Major League Baseball.
Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation today to prohibit the use of all tobacco products – including smokeless tobacco like chew, dip and snuff – at all ticketed sporting events within the city. The measure covers Yankee Stadium and Citi Field – and took effect immediately. New York joins San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles and Chicago in enacting similar measures. A statewide law in California will take effect before the 2017 season. Once all these laws are implemented, one-third of major league stadiums will be tobacco-free, and other MLB cities are considering similar measures.
“Tonight, at Yankee Stadium, Major League baseball history will be made again with the first tobacco-free game,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “We welcome this historic action because our national pastime should be about promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, not a deadly and addictive product. With the mayor’s signature, New York sends the right message to millions of young fans that chewing tobacco is dangerous and should not be an accepted part of sports culture.”
The Knock Tobacco Out of the Park campaign, a coalition of public health and medical organizations, has advocated for tobacco-free baseball. 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.
“We applaud Mayor de Blasio, Council Member Corey Johnson and other Council members for stepping up to the plate on behalf of our children and taking tobacco out of baseball in New York City,” Myers added. “With the nation’s largest city and home to two storied franchises moving to rid baseball of tobacco, this cause is destined to get even more serious and deserved attention across the country. New York today sent a simple and powerful message to kids: baseball and tobacco don’t mix.”