Today Councilmember Yvette M. Alexander (Ward 7) along with Councilmembers Mary Cheh (Ward 3) and Kenyan McDuffie (Ward 5) introduced the Sporting Events Smoking and Smokeless Tobacco Restriction Amendment Act of 2016.
The proposed legislation would prohibit smokeless tobacco, such as chewing tobacco and snuff, at stadiums and arenas designed for organized sporting events. The bill aims to prevent the use of smokeless tobacco among youth. Smokeless tobacco is particularly part of a culture within Major League Baseball where the usage is prevalent. Smokeless tobacco is strongly associated with playing sports, particularly baseball, and these athletes often serve as role models for the youth.
“We’ve passed previous legislation that bans smoking in public places and workplaces; however, smokeless tobacco products also pose serious health risks and concern of nicotine addiction, especially among our youth,” says Councilmember Alexander who chairs the Committee on Health and Human Services. “We want to discourage all tobacco usage among the youth. Professional athletes can help achieve this goal by setting the right example for kids.”
“By enacting this legislation, Washington, D.C. can send another strong signal to Major League Baseball and the country that it’s time to take tobacco out of baseball once and for all – and time for players to set the right example for kids by ending the use of chewing tobacco,” says Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “We applaud Councilmember Alexander for stepping up to the plate on behalf of this important legislation and protecting the health of our children. Her legislation sends a simple and powerful message to kids: baseball and tobacco don’t mix.”
While cigarette smoking has been on the decline, smokeless tobacco use among athletes increased more than 11 percent from 2001 to 2013. A 2015 CDC report found that each year, about a half a million kids age 12-17 use smokeless tobacco for the first time. This bill has been referred to the Judiciary Committee, chaired by Councilmember McDuffie. If the legislation passes, the District will join San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago and New York in voting to ban smokeless tobacco at sporting events.