Smokeless tobacco will soon be off-limits for players and audiences at Yankee Stadium and other sporting venues in New York City.
Tuesday afternoon, the city council passed a ban on smokeless tobacco and all tobacco products at all ticketed sporting locations in the city, such as Citi Field and Yankee Stadium. Approved by a vote of 44 to 3, the ban could take effect immediately as Mayor Bill de Blasio's signing of the bill is deemed a formality.
Other major cities - including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, and Chicago just last week - had already passed similar laws following calls from the Washington-based lobbying group Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. A ban is also forthcoming in California next year.
"The players will be fine. You deal with it," says Yankees manager Joe Girardi in a New York Times report of the ban, which will take effect in seven ballparks or nearly a quarter of those in the major leagues.
However, despite previous meetings and signs posted in related places, it is yet to be known how much the fine would be, how the law would be enforced, and if players' comments will be taken into account. Some also wondered how smokeless tobacco is legal everywhere else except for the ballpark.
"It's a completely legal substance," argues Yankee reliever Andrew Miller, a former smokeless tobacco user. He added that while players likely won't picket over the issue, there are some who remain addicted to chewing tobacco, potentially leading to a tricky situation.
But for Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the law gets one "very close to a tipping point," where they said it makes sense for the players and the league to agree on enacting the law banning smokeless tobacco in such places.
The ban is believed to push for a decline in the use of chewing tobacco, alongside the drop in smoking rates that is already happening. It should be one point where Mets and Yankees fans agree, says council member Corey Johnson in an ESPN report.
The relative lack of outrage among players today, however, may be because of a lack of surprise as well. The dangers of tobacco surfaced and became more felt in the baseball community after the death of Hall-of-Famer and recognized smokeless tobacco user Tony Gwynn in 2014 from salivary gland cancer.
In the minor leagues, tobacco use is already banned among players.