Walsh Bans Smokeless Tobacco at Parks and Sports Venues

September 10, 2015
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By now we all know that smokeless tobacco leads to serious health problems like mouth and throat cancer. For years its been a mainstay in sports with thousands of players both at the amateur and professional level sticking huge wads of chew in their mouths and spitting constantly at games.

On Wednesday, Mayor Martin Walsh put an end to the practice by banning the use at sports venues and parks across the city, even at Fenway Park. In the ordinance smokeless tobacco is defined as 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.

According to the ordinance any person found in violation may be fined $250 per offense. The prohibitions and requirements will become effective on April 1, 2016.

Walsh, with support of the Boston City Council, signed the ordinance that prohibits 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 healthier City, full of 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.”

City Councilor Sal LaMattina voted in favor of the measure and said he supports it wholeheartedly.

I fully support this ordinance to outlaw smokeless tobacco from sporting events in the City,” said LaMattina. “As one of the leading cause of cancer smokeless tobacco has no place in family friendly environments and poses a huge risk to children. I applaud the Mayor along with my colleagues in the City Council for taking a responsible action and setting a good example for our youth.”

Walsh’s signing of the smokeless tobacco ban coincides with this month being Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Walsh said it is alarming that while cigarette smoke has declined in recent years among youth, smokeless tobacco has increased steadily since 1999 with 14.7 percent of high-school boys and 8.8 percent of all high-school students reported using smokeless products in 2013. Walsh pointed out that each year about 535,000 kids ages 12-17 use smokeless tobacco for the first time.

“With this decisive action, Boston hits a homerun for baseball, cancer prevention and public health,” said Dr. Howard Koh of the 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.”

The city is requesting that overseers of sporting events the event maintain compliance with the ordinance by clearly posting signs at entrances to sites as well as dugouts, bullpens, training and locker rooms and press boxes.

“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.”