Take Me Out to the Tobacco-free Ball Game
Batter up! Today is one of my favorite days of the year – opening day. America’s pastime is back and I can hardly wait to get to my first game of the season. I’m even more excited for the 2017 season because, for the first time, nearly half of all Major League Baseball (MLB) stadiums across the country (14 of 30) will be tobacco-free.
Since baseball wrapped up last October, four more cities, including Milwaukee, St. Petersburg, St. Louis and Washington, D.C., as well as the state of California, have passed and implemented laws to make sporting venues tobacco-free. Baseball parks in these markets will join my beloved Fenway in removing all tobacco from the game.
Additionally, 2017 will be the first season the new collective bargaining agreement takes effect among the MLB owners and the players’ association, which prohibits the use of smokeless tobacco products by new players to the majors and allows MLB to penalize and fine any players – new or veteran - who violate local tobacco-free laws.
Baseball is a family event and should promote healthy activity to fans of all ages. We can all remember looking up to our favorite players as kids, wanting to be just like them. Mine was Ted Williams, No. 9. Thanks to these tobacco-free sporting venue ordinances, kids emulating their baseball heroes won’t be encouraged to mimic a deadly addiction.
Smokeless tobacco is known to cause a number of cancers, including mouth, cheek, esophagus, gum and pancreatic cancer. A product that kills when used as directed has no place in America’s pastime.
I congratulate all the cities that have passed laws to remove tobacco from their sports venues and urge the rest to follow suit. I also want to reiterate my thanks to the owners and players’ association for taking significant action on tobacco use in their collective bargaining agreement. It’s my sincere hope that all ballparks will strike out tobacco by next season.