The New York City Council announced Tuesday its approval of a bill that will ban consumption of smokeless tobacco at Yankees Stadium and Citi Field, home of Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees and New York Mets, respectively.
The vote was 44-3 in favor of the ban, according to the New York Times’ Tim Rohan, and comes a day after the bill was approved 7-1 by the council’s health committee.
Smokeless tobacco has already been banned from baseball stadiums in Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and, as of last week, Chicago. The Cleveland Indians, Cincinnati Reds, and Pittsburgh Pirates do not allow smoking at their stadiums.
The move was met with incredulity by Cubs and White Sox players, who viewed the move as one that enters the arena of diminishing the ability for them to make their own choices. Cubs pitcher John Lackey opposed the ban, telling the Chicago Sun-Times that it is not right that a fan in the stadium can purchase and consume a beer but not tobacco.
“I get it, you don’t [want] your Little League kid to do that. I don’t want him [gestures to his nearby son] to do it. I don’t do it personally, honestly. But grown men should have their own choice.”
Cubs Manager Joe Maddon went a step further, saying that he does not support “over-legislating the human race.”
“I stopped chewing tobacco about 15 years ago, and I’m glad that I did because I think I feel better because of it. I know the pitfalls. But I’m into education; education the masses and let everybody make their own decisions. That’s what I’m about. So to tell me what I can and cannot do as an adult –unless it’s illegal; that’s something different.
According to a pair of articles from the New York Post, it does not appear as though the Mets are quite as disturbed by the ban, with one player telling the Post anonymously “if they apply a rule, we should abide by it.” Outfielder Curtis Granderson seemed to echo the sentiments of his teammates, saying that he is just unsure how the rules would be enforced, both for fans and players alike.
“Does that mean a fan at the game will get a citation or something, whether another fan acknowledges it and calls the police or the helpline?” Granderson said. “If a security guard or police or unmarked sees another fan doing it, do they do something? If you see a player doing something, do you give him something, during the game, after the game? It will be interesting to see what the definition is.”
Likewise, the Yankees have also not loudly opposed the ban, as the team attempted to take proactive measures during Spring Training. Per NJ.com, the team hung a sign reading, “Anyone Wanting Nicotine Replacement Therapy Supplies (Gum, Lozenges, or Patches) – To Kick The Habit – Please See Steve Donohue” in its clubhouse. Donohue is the team trainer.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi told the site that he personally does not recommend that players use chewing tobacco and that he felt the team’s move was the right way to go about easing the team into the change.
“They’re giving player a healthy alternative, which I think is a good thing,” he said. “There’s a lot of things that are dangerous in our world that aren’t outlawed. … But I would recommend our players not do it.”
The lack of outrage by the New York teams may be due to the lack of surprise. The move by the New York City Council falls in line with the notion that the baseball community has been more visibly wary of the dangers that come with tobacco use following the death of Hall-of-Famer and noted smokeless tobacco user Tony Gwynn to salivary gland cancer in 2014.
Tobacco use is already banned throughout the entirety of the minor leagues for players.