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Mayor Walsh signs smokeless tobacco ordinance

September 9, 2015

Mayor's Office

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Mayor's Office

Mayor Martin J. Walsh today signed an ordinance to prohibit the use of smokeless tobacco and other tobacco products at baseball parks, including Fenway Park. The ordinance also bans 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.

"I commend the Boston City Council on passing the ordinance banning smokeless tobacco at sports venues in Boston," said Mayor Walsh. "I'm proud to sign this ordinance today. If we continue to take action steps such as these, Boston will be on its way to becoming a healthy City, full positive examples for our young people to follow. The consequences of smokeless tobacco are real and can be devastating. We're doing the right thing for our children and I look forward to continuing on the path to making Boston a leader in healthy and active living." 

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. 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." 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. 

"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. 

"With this decisive action, Boston hits a homerun for baseball, cancer prevention and public health," said Dr. Howard Koh of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. "We thank Mayor Walsh and the Boston City Council for their leadership in setting a historic example for the country." 

Those managing the event sites will be primarily 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 may be fined $250 per offense. The prohibitions and requirements will become effective onApril 1, 2016. 

"With Boston playing a leading role, from coast to coast, city by city, we are getting tobacco out of baseball once and for all," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "Mayor Walsh's signature on this law means Boston is a national leader in reducing the number of young people using smokeless tobacco. Our national pastime should be about promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, not a deadly and addictive product." 

More information on this ordinance can be found at http://ow.ly/RWpTg.