Continuing a movement that has been sweeping through major cities, the New York City Council officially banned all chewing tobacco from Citi Field and Yankee Stadium on Tuesday.
Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal reported the news. The legislation had been makings its rounds for months, getting approval from the health department in February before going up for a formal vote this week. The council's health committee passed the ban by a 7-1 vote Monday, setting up Tuesday's formal decision.
"In New York City we've seen smoking rates precipitously decline because of public health measures, but chewing tobacco has remained steady, without much of a decline—especially among young men, and especially among athletes. And I think that's primarily because it's socially acceptable, and we see baseball players using it on the field," Councilman Corey Johnson said, per Erin Durkin of the New York Post.
New York joins Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Boston as the major U.S. cities to ban smokeless tobacco in ballparks. The Yankees and Mets have come out publicly in favor of legislation.
"Major League Baseball has long supported a ban of smokeless tobacco at the major league level and the New York Yankees fully support the proposed Local Law to amend the Administrative Code of the City of New York pertaining to prohibiting the use of smokeless tobacco at ticketed sports arenas and recreation areas," the Yankees said in a February statement.
“The New York Mets join Major League Baseball in the support of the local law to ban smokeless tobacco in New York ticketed arenas, stadiums and ballparks. Preventing children from being exposed to smokeless tobacco is an important initiative and we are glad to play our part in achieving this important goal," the Mets' statement read.
While the ban has support from MLB and its teams, players have seen the issue differently. Many have wondered aloud how or if it's even possible to police chewing tobacco, and they've voiced their displeasure about a long-standing tradition being taken away.
“Does that mean a fan at the game will get a citation or something, whether another fan acknowledges it and calls the police or the helpline?” Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson said, per Mike Puma of the New York Post. “If a security guard or police or unmarked sees another fan doing it, do they do something? If you see a player doing something, do you give him something, during the game, after the game? It will be interesting to see what the definition is.”
Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon was also critical of his city's ban, saying he is "not into overlegislating the human race," per Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago.
It appears these bans are here to stay, and there should be more down the pipeline. As other cities begin seeing how places like L.A. and New York police smokeless tobacco, each will likely examine whether its city's infrastructure could handle a similar situation.
It's possible this winds up being nothing but a paper ban and players continue chewing unimpeded. But if these cities are serious, some players are in for a big change.
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