New York

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NYC Passes Legislation Against Tobacco in Sporting Events

6 Apr, 2016

By: Mary Helen Sprecher
Measure Governs Smoking, as well as Smokeless Tobacco, at all Venues

One day after the State of New York finally cleared the way for professional MMA bouts to be held, it said no to what some might consider a far more long-standing tradition: tobacco at sports events. That includes tobacco in any form, meaning not just cigarettes, cigars and so on, but smokeless tobacco.

And nowhere was there as much of a focus on this as at the city’s Major League Baseball parks.

An article in Yahoo! Sports noted the March 23 passage by the New York’s City Council of legislation clearly prohibiting the use of all tobacco products at all ticketed sporting sites in the city. The bill passed by an overwhelming 44-3 vote, according to a New York Times report.

“That's a pretty big story in the baseball world for a couple reasons,” noted the Yahoo! article. “First and foremost, Yankee Stadium and Citi Field would be covered by the bill once it's signed in to law by Mayor Bill de Blasio. In the same vein, smokeless tobacco is a popular item among players, so those who use will have to make serious adjustments, perhaps by opening day.”

Both the Yankees and Mets expressed support for the legislation last month. The Yankees going so far as to let players know that anyone wanting nicotine replacement therapy supplies should see the team trainer for assistance.

But if tobacco in sports arenas is considered an institution by the old guard, it’s essential to consider the influencers for the change. One, for example, is as the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. As a result of various health initiatives, and in recognition of the family demographic that frequents its games, minor league ballparks have already banned tobacco use.

Many sports venues already limit smokers to specific areas in the park; however, more and more facilities are taking measures to remove it from the grounds altogether. Last fall, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that bans tobacco use in each of the state's five MLB parks. New York's bill will make it seven ballparks, and with similar laws developing in Boston, Chicago and Toronto, it’s a sure bet more tobacco-free ballparks are on the way.

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