ST. LOUIS, Feb. 3, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The St. Louis City Board of Aldermen voted today to prohibit the use of smokeless tobacco products (like chew, dip and snuff) at the city's sports venues, including Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals. Today's action adds growing momentum to the national campaign to take tobacco out of baseball. It also sends a simple and powerful message to kids: baseball and tobacco don't mix.
The measure applies to all sports facilities within city limits, and covers players, fans, employees and others in the venue.
"Today, St. Louis is sending a loud and clear message that baseball players and other athletes are role models for our nation's youth, and tobacco should no longer be associated with the sports culture," said Alderwoman Dionne Flowers, the sponsor of the measure. "Today's vote is a win for the health of our kids and our community."
"Our national pastime should be about promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, not a deadly and addictive product," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "Today's action keeps the momentum firmly on our side to finally get tobacco out of baseball for kids, the players and the future."
St. Louis joins the growing number of Major League cities to take tobacco out of baseball. Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York, San Francisco, Tampa Bay and Washington, D.C. have all enacted laws prohibiting tobacco use at sports venues, including their professional baseball stadiums. A statewide law in California will take effect before the 2017 season (adding Anaheim, Oakland and San Diego to the list). Once all of these laws are in place, 14 of the 30 Major League stadiums will be tobacco-free. Legislation is under consideration in Toronto and the state of Minnesota.
In addition to these laws, Major League Baseball's new collective bargaining agreement prohibits all new MLB players from using smokeless tobacco. Together, these actions make it inevitable that baseball will be tobacco-free, but MLB cities should act sooner rather than later to break the long and harmful link between baseball and tobacco.
"Tobacco use by professional and non-professional athletes endangers the health of young fans who follow their lead, the employees around them and the players themselves," said Karen Englert, Missouri Government Relations Director of the American Heart Association. "We applaud and thank Alderwoman Flowers and her colleagues for their continued leadership on this important health issue."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that high school athletes use smokeless tobacco at nearly twice the rate of non-athletes, and smokeless tobacco use among athletes increased more than 11 percent from 2001 to 2013, even as smoking rates dropped significantly. Among male high school athletes, smokeless tobacco use is particularly alarming at 17.4 percent in 2013 (the latest data available).
Public health experts – including the CDC, U.S. Surgeon General, U.S. National Cancer Institute and World Health Organization – have all concluded that smokeless tobacco use is dangerous. Smokeless tobacco contains at least 28 known carcinogens and causes oral, pancreatic and esophageal cancer. The product also causes nicotine addiction and other serious health problems like gum disease, tooth decay and mouth lesions.
Organizations supporting the St. Louis legislation include the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association and Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights. They are part of the "Knock Tobacco Out of the Park" campaign to take tobacco out of baseball once and for all.
For more information, visit www.tobaccofreebaseball.org.
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SOURCE American Heart Association