New York City may be next to ban chewing tobacco in ballparks

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New York City could be soon joining Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco in banning chewing tobacco in baseball parks.

A bill has been introduced before the New York City Council to ban chewing tobacco in all ballparks in the city, and this includes Yankee Stadium and the Mets’ CitiField. And the ban might be in place by opening day in April.

From a New York Times article:

“If New York passes this bill, and I think it will, it moves us dramatically closer to the day when smokeless tobacco is prohibited in all major league cities,” said Matthew Myers, the president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

According to bill proponent, Councilman Corey Johnson, both the Yankees and the Mets are behind the bill.

I’m guessing with neither team opposing the bill and with the fact that New York City is one of the most anti-tobacco cities in the nation (The city has extremely high cigarette taxes and very strict smoking bans, thanks in large part to former mayor Michael Bloomberg, an anti-smoking zealot.), odds are this bill will pass. In San Francisco, Boston and Los Angeles, bills in all three cities easily passed. Johnson says that he is hoping the bill will take effect before the beginning of baseball season in April.

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 07: A general view of game between the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field on April 7, 2012 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 07: A general view of game between the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field on April 7, 2012 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

This bill is just the latest salvo by cities to force the Major League Players Association to ban chewing tobacco on the field. Chew is already banned on the field at the Minor League and NCAA levels and Major League Baseball has made it clear that it wants to ban chew on the field, too — however, the Players’ Association has to agree to it through the collective bargaining process.

When contacted for a comment by the Times, Mets’ third baseman David Wright responded:

 “On one hand, I would argue we are adults and that’s a choice we choose to make,” he wrote in an email. “On the other hand, we are role models and the last thing we want is for an underage kid to begin using because they watched their favorite players do it.”

I’d guess I’d respond to David no one is saying you can’t chew — you just can’t do it on the field during the games, just like you can’t smoke. Back in the day, players and managers used to actually smoke cigarettes in the dugout, but cigarettes on the field were banned by baseball many years ago. No one really seems to care about that.

In addition to San Francisco, Boston, L.A. and apparently soon New York, chew may be banned soon in San Diego and Oakland baseball parks because a bill is being considered by the California State Assembly to ban chew in all ballparks in the state.

Chew is a big problem among baseball players. A much, much higher percentage of baseball players use chew than the general population. It’s for some reason deeply ingrained into the culture of baseball. The issue of chew in baseball has been brought to the forefront somewhat by the recent death of Tony Gwynn from salivary gland cancer and the recent battle by Curt Schilling against oral cancer.

 

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