FORT MYERS , FL – FEBRUARY 26: Boston Red Sox pitcher Jake Peavy has a bulging cheek from chewing tobacco as he throws batting practice. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images) | Boston Globe via Getty Images
The mayor is expected to discuss the proposal Wednesday morning at a city park where he’ll be joined by public health officials and former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling.
“Our baseball parks are places for creating healthy futures, and this ordinance is about doing the right thing as a community for our young people,” Walsh said in a statement ahead of Wednesday’s announcement. “The consequences of smokeless tobacco are real, and we must do all that we can to set an example.”
Schilling, now an ESPN analyst, revealed earlier this year he was diagnosed and treated for mouth cancer. He believes chewing tobacco was the cause.
“I have seen cancer take the lives of people very important to me like my father, a lifelong smoker, and I have endured the insufferable agony of radiation to the head/neck,” Schilling said in a statement. “If this law stops just one child from starting, it’s worth the price.”
A Boston Red Sox spokesman did not immediately comment Wednesday, but owner John Henry told The Boston Globe that he supports the idea.
Walsh’s proposal would apply to everyone in a ballpark, including fans, players, ground crews and concession staff. His office says those managing sporting event sites would be responsible for assuring compliance and that signs are posted at entrances, dugouts, bullpens, training and locker rooms and press boxes. Violators would be subject to a $250 fine.
The proposed Boston ordinance would cover professional, collegiate, high school or organized amateur sporting events and be effective April 1.
If approved, Boston would become the second U.S. city, behind San Francisco, to ban chewing tobacco and related products from ballfields. Los Angeles is considering a similar proposal, but it is focused solely on baseball and does not impact other sports.
Walsh plans to officially file the ordinance with the City Council on Monday.
Specifically, his plan calls for banning use of “smokeless tobacco” products, which are defined as any product containing “cut, ground, powdered, or leaf tobacco and is intended to be placed in the oral or nasal cavity.” It would include, but not be limited to, snuff, chewing tobacco, dipping tobacco and dissolvable tobacco products, according to Walsh’s office.
Walsh’s office notes that while cigarette smoking has been on the decline in the U.S., smokeless tobacco use among youth has remained relatively steady since 1999. Nearly 15 percent of high-school age boys and nearly 9 percent of all high-school students reported using smokeless products in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Surgeon General and the National Cancer Institute say smokeless tobacco contains at least 28 cancer-causing chemicals that can lead to oral, pancreatic and esophageal cancer and other health problems like mouth lesions and tooth decay.
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