The City Council passed legislation Tuesday banning smokeless tobacco from baseball stadiums and other sporting arenas, saying children are negatively influenced by images of athlete “role models” with wads of chewing tobacco in their cheeks.
“It’s time to take the tobacco out of baseball,” said bill sponsor Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan), chairman of the council’s health committee. He denounced the “destructive and unhealthy habit.”
Johnson told reporters at City Hall he hopes Mayor Bill de Blasio will sign the bill into law before Opening Day next month for the Mets and Yankees.
The Mets said in statement they have joined Major League Baseball in backing the measure and will review the legislation.
“Preventing children from being exposed to smokeless tobacco is an important initiative,” the organization said, “and we are glad to play our part in achieving this important goal.”
The Yankees in a statement said they “fully support” the proposed law.
The legislation passed with a 44-3 vote.
New York City joins Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles in moving to prohibit smokeless tobacco from ticketed sport venues.
The American Heart Association applauded the bill’s passage, with a senior director, Robin Vitale, pointing out that the use of chewing tobacco at widely broadcast games has amounted to “free advertising,” though formal marketing of tobacco has been prohibited for decades. Tobacco is linked to higher rates of cancers and heart, oral and lung disease, Vitale said.
The city health department supports the legislation, but a mayoral spokeswoman wouldn’t say whether de Blasio would sign it.