New York City is about to ban chewing tobacco from sports arenas. Mayor Bill de Blasio has come out to say he will sign a bill in the next two weeks which will make it illegal for players or fans to use smokeless tobacco, particularly at baseball stadiums such as Yankee Stadium and Citi Field.
Tobacco use has been a subject of debate for decades, much more than it used to be. At one point it was acceptable to advertise it with children’s cartoon characters. For example, see the classic advertisement for Winston cigarettes, where Fred Flintstone lights up and tells the audience that “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.”
Even baseball players have a long history of promoting chewing tobacco, often spitting it on the grass while they play, displaying the ever-present lump in their cheek.
After years of research, it was eventually determined that tobacco in any form is harmful to your health. Smoking often leads to lung cancer and heart disease, while smokeless tobacco can lead to gum disease, up to and including losing your entire bottom jaw.
These days, the public is growing more health-conscious. Organic foods and GMO labeling are becoming more popular, as fast food restaurants are being forced to include healthier ingredients.
One place where people often go to find the best restaurants is New York City. It tends to boast the best kinds of food from around the world without actually leaving the United States. Standards for fresh cooking are rising due to health concerns across the board, and now tobacco is once again earning more restrictions.
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Back in 1990, a movement began which forced more and more smokers to go outside if they wanted to continue using cigarettes and cigars. By now, across the nation, smoking indoors is illegal, and even discouraged in our homes.
With the rise of the ban on indoor smoking came the rise of “vaping,” a kind of smokeless device which uses fluid to attempt to stop the addiction to cigarettes altogether. Now, even electronic cigarettes are considered unhealthy and generally ineffective, even though the risk of second-hand smoke has been nearly eliminated indoors.
The stigma of baseball players and fans using smokeless tobacco is still a problem for New York City Mayor de Blasio. He is hoping to stop the perpetuated image of chewing tobacco being “cool” because Major League Baseball players use it. He might also want to eliminate the sales of Big League Chew from stores across the city, since the name is suggestive and directly derived from the habit de Blasio is about to make illegal.
The New York City Mayor is doing it for the better health of baseball fans and city residents, he says.
“It’s very important for the health of our players, and for the city as a whole. Young people look up to baseball players, and they look up to all athletes, and we want to protect everyone’s health.
“We hope it will be voluntary, but later on in the season when the law takes full effect, and all the signs are posted in the stadiums and the warnings are given, if players don’t relent we will issue fines. Obviously, given the money they make the fines may not be a big deal unto themselves, but it will show that we’re serious. And it’s just a wake-up call.”
It’s unknown how the tobacco industry will react to this if the ban on chewing tobacco becomes a growing trend, like the one on smoking indoors has. Laws governing tobacco use have come a long way, and continue to evolve for the public’s health.
How do you feel about New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signing the chewing tobacco ban into effect next month?
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