Boston Mayor proposes ban on smokeless tobacco in city parks

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A proposed ban on the use of smokeless tobacco in Boston’s ballparks and athletic fields is aimed at protecting the health of the professional athletes who use it as well as impressionable young people who often want to emulate the behavior of their sports heroes.

Mayor Martin Walsh announced on August 5, 2015 that he would file an ordinance with the Boston City Council to ban smokeless tobacco and other tobacco products at sites for professional, collegiate, high school, or organized amateur sporting events, and at any other competitive athletic events organized by leagues or associations. Breaking the ban, which would go into effect April 1, 2016 if approved, would result in a $250 fine.

Although cigarette smoking is prohibited or restricted in all Major League Baseball parks, players, coaches, and others in the baseball world still use smokeless tobacco. But the “chew” or “dip,” as it’s also known, contains at least 28 carcinogens and causes oral, pancreatic, and esophageal cancer, as well as other health problems such as heart disease, gum disease, tooth decay, and mouth lesions, according to an editorial in the August 5, 2015 Boston Globe by Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and former assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Alan Woodward, former president of the Massachusetts Medical Society and chair of Tobacco Free Mass.