For Immediate Release: January 19, 2017
Contact: John Schacter (202) 481-9584
Tampa Bay Joins Growing List of Cities with Tobacco-Free Baseball – 13 of 30 MLB Stadiums Will Be Tobacco-Free in 2017 Season
Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Adding momentum to the national campaign to take tobacco out of baseball, the St. Petersburg City Council voted today to prohibit the use of smokeless tobacco products (like chew, dip and snuff) at the city’s sports venues, including Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays. Today’s vote sends a simple and powerful message to kids: baseball and tobacco don’t mix.
The vote affirms that our national pastime should be about promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, not a deadly and addictive product, and that doing so is not only good for America’s kids, it is good for baseball. St. Petersburg – the first southern city to pass such legislation – is sending the right message that baseball players are role models for our nation’s youth and chewing tobacco is dangerous and should not be an accepted part of sports culture.
This measure – which has the support of the Tampa Bay Rays – applies to all sports facilities at all levels within city limits and covers players, fans and anyone in the entire venue during a baseball game or related activity. It will help set the right example for America’s youth and benefit the players’ health.
Tampa Bay joins the growing number of Major League cities to take tobacco out of baseball. Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. have enacted laws prohibiting tobacco use at sports venues, including their professional baseball stadiums. A statewide law in California will take effect before the 2017 season (adding Anaheim, Oakland and San Diego to the list). Once all of these laws are in place, 13 of the 30 Major League stadiums will be tobacco-free. Legislation is under consideration in Toronto and the state of Minnesota.
In addition to these laws, MLB’s new collective bargaining agreement prohibits all new MLB players from using smokeless tobacco. Together, these actions make it inevitable that baseball will be tobacco-free, but MLB cities should act sooner rather than later to break the long and harmful link between baseball and tobacco.
We applaud and thank St. Petersburg City Council Chair Darden Rice, her colleagues and Mayor Rick Kriseman for their leadership in helping advance this worthy cause.