FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 19, 2018
CONTACT: Becky Wexler, 202-296-5469
Seattle Joins Growing List of Cities with Tobacco-Free Baseball – 15 of 30 MLB Stadiums Have Knocked Tobacco Out of the Park
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 King County Board of Health voted unanimously today to prohibit use of smokeless tobacco products (like chew, dip and snuff) at professional sports venues, including Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners. Today’s vote sends a simple and powerful message to kids: baseball and tobacco don’t mix. With the addition of Seattle, fully half of Major League Baseball stadiums – 15 of 30 – will be tobacco-free.
Today’s vote affirms that our national pastime should promote a healthy and active lifestyle, not a deadly and addictive product. King County and Seattle are sending the right message: Baseball players and other athletes are role models for our nation’s youth, while chewing tobacco is dangerous and should not be an accepted part of sports culture.
We thank the Seattle Mariners for supporting the measure approved today. We also applaud and thank King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski (Board of Health chair) and Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw (Board of Health vice-chair) for their leadership in advancing this worthy cause.
This measure applies to all professional sports facilities in King County and covers players, fans and anyone in the entire venue. It will set the right example for America’s youth and benefit the players’ health as well.
Seattle joins the growing number of Major League cities to take tobacco out of baseball. Other Major League cities covered by similar local or state laws include Anaheim (Los Angeles Angels), Boston (Red Sox), Chicago (Cubs and White Sox), Los Angeles (Dodgers), Milwaukee (Brewers), New York (Mets and Yankees), Oakland (A’s), San Diego (Padres), San Francisco (Giants), St. Louis (Cardinals), St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay Rays) and Washington, D.C. (Nationals).
In addition to these laws, MLB’s latest 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.
- Public health experts – including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Surgeon General, 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.
- The 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 was an alarming 17.4 percent in 2013.
- Smokeless tobacco manufacturers spent $759.3 million on marketing in 2016 (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.
The Knock Tobacco Out of the Park campaign, a coalition of public health and medical organizations, has advocated for tobacco-free baseball. Learn more at www.tobaccofreebaseball.org.
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.