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Mayor Walsh to file ordinance to ban smokeless tobacco at professional and amateur sports venues in Boston

August 5, 2015

Mayor's Office

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Mayor's Office

Mayor Martin J. Walsh today joined public health officials, advocates, local youth and former Red Sox player Curt Schilling to announce that he will take steps to prohibit the use of smokeless tobacco and other tobacco products at baseball parks, including Fenway Park, and other professional and amateur sports venues in Boston.

"Our baseball parks are places for creating healthy futures, and this ordinance is about doing the right thing as a community for our young people," said Mayor Walsh. "The consequences of smokeless tobacco are real, and we must do all that we can to set an example. I look forward to working with the City Council to keep Boston on the leading edge in creating healthy communities for our young people."

Mayor Walsh will officially file an ordinance with the City Council on Monday.

"Boston's action today sends a loud and powerful message that it's time to break the harmful link between baseball and tobacco," said Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "Our national pastime should be about promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, not a deadly and addictive product. From coast to coast, the momentum is on our side to finally take tobacco out of baseball for kids, the players and the future. Players who dip or chew are providing the tobacco industry with free marketing, and that's not something anyone needs. This action will help our children grow up healthier. We applaud Mayor Walsh for his efforts and stand ready to work with him and other Boston leaders to make the next generation tobacco-free."

"I am in support of banning any kind of tobacco at Fenway Park or in any public location," said former Red Sox player Curt Schilling. "I have seen cancer take the lives of people very important to me like my father, a lifelong smoker, and I have endured the insufferable agony of radiation to the head/neck. If this law stops just one child from starting, it's worth the price. Because that child could be yours, or mine." 

While cigarette smoking in the U.S. has been on the decline, smokeless tobacco among youth has remained steady since 1999. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) finds that nationally 14.7 percent of high-school boys and 8.8 percent of all high-school students reported using smokeless products in 2013 and each year about 535,000 kids ages 12-17 use smokeless tobacco for the first time.

The National Cancer Institute states that chewing tobacco and snuff contain 28 cancer-causing agents and the U.S. National Toxicology Program has established smokeless tobacco as a "known human carcinogen."

"Growing up in Boston, I wanted to be David Ortiz, so I imitated pretty much everything I saw him do at the plate," said Rhakil Dias-Samayoa, a young person from Boston who spoke at the press conference. "I remember too many of my high school teammates copying their favorite players' tobacco use because of the intense admiration they had for their heroes. Unfortunately, in the case of tobacco, looking up to a ball player can often set the stage for addiction, disease, and sometimes even death. We have to do everything we can to make sure that no other kids end up getting hooked on this deadly product. I am proud of Mayor Marty Walsh and his efforts to help knock tobacco out of the park."

The ordinance will ban smokeless tobacco or any other tobacco product at event sites for professional, collegiate, high school or organized amateur sporting events, including baseball, softball, football, basketball, hockey, track and field, field hockey, lacrosse and soccer; and any other event involving a game or other athletic competition organized by a league or association. 

"Smokeless tobacco" refers to any product that contains cut, ground, powdered, or leaf tobacco and is intended to be placed in the oral or nasal cavity, including, but not limited to, snuff, chewing tobacco, dipping tobacco, dissolvable tobacco products and snus.

Those managing the event sites will be responsible for maintaining compliance with the ordinance. Signs will be clearly posted at entrances to sites as well as dugouts, bullpens, training and locker rooms and press boxes.

Any person found in violation will be fined $250 per offense. Following enactment of the proposed ordinance, the prohibitions and requirements will become effective on April 1, 2016.