New York banning smokeless tobacco at ballparks, other venues

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FILE -- Smokeless tobacco in can and pouches, warning labels, surgeon general, cancer. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is knocking smokeless tobacco products out of the park, giving both fans and players less to chew on. The crackdown will be in sports venues and recreational areas that issue tickets across the city, including Citi Field (home of the Mets) and Yankee Stadium.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is knocking smokeless tobacco products out of the park, giving both fans and players less to chew on.

The crackdown will be in sports venues and recreational areas that issue tickets across the city, including Citi Field (home of the Mets) and Yankee Stadium.

The smokeless tobacco ordinance will be signed into law by de Blasio on Wednesday.

New York is the latest city to join a growing list of cities that have recently banned dipping and chewing at its ballparks, following San Francisco, Los Angeles and Boston.

San Francisco was the first city in the nation to crackdown on smokeless tobacco at all sports venues in May 2015. The restriction included AT&T Park, home of the city’s Major League Baseball team, the Giants.

“It’s very important for the health of our players, and for the city as a whole,” de Blasio told ESPN in March. “Young people look up to baseball players, and they look up to all athletes, and we want to protect everyone’s health.”

Smokeless tobacco is far from harmless. It contains nicotine and cancer-causing chemicals and may increase the risk of death from heart disease and stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC study conducted in September 2015 found that high school athletes are using smokeless tobacco more than nonathletes, and that despite a drop in smoking, consumption of smokeless tobacco products had increased.

“We can do more to protect America’s youth from a lifetime of addiction,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden in reaction to those findings. “The fact is, smokeless tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco, snuff or dip, can cause cancer of the mouth, esophagus and pancreas. And the nicotine in these products is harmful to the developing brain. Because we know tobacco-free policies in schools and other public recreational areas work, we must take action now so that our children are safe from these toxins.”

Chewing tobacco has long been associated with baseball. Notable athletes with a history of smokeless tobacco use have been diagnosed with or died from oral cancer.

Use of chewing tobacco has been banned in minor league baseball since 1993. But it is still allowed under the union contract that covers Major League Baseball.

“MLB has long supported a ban of smokeless tobacco at the Major League level, and we support the efforts of cities to ban the use of all tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco, in sports stadiums and arenas,” said MLB spokesman Mike Teevan.

CNN’s Kristina Sgueglia contributed to this report.

By Azadeh Ansari