San Francisco approves historic ordinance to ban tobacco use in county, city ballparks

April 23, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Advocacy Environmental Health Public Health 

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a first-of-its-kind ordinance against tobacco on Tuesday, prohibiting the use of all tobacco products at baseball venues within the county and city.

The measure, which includes smokeless tobacco products in its ban, was passed with unanimous approval. It would affect both players and fans at ballparks and athletic fields — including AT&T Park — and take effect on January 1, 2016. However, it first needed final approval from the Board of Supervisors and a signature from Mayor Ed Lee. The final vote took place April 28 at the Board of Supervisors meeting, resulting in passage by 10 “aye” votes.

“Today’s vote by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is truly historic and a huge step toward eliminating tobacco from baseball for good,” said Matthew L. Meyers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “San Francisco will become the first city to take tobacco out of baseball, setting a powerful example that all of Major League Baseball and the rest of the country should quickly follow.”

Meanwhile, San Francisco physician John Maa, M.D., was recognized for his efforts in limiting tobacco use, informing the public of its health risks, keeping tobacco out of the hands of youth and inspiring other medical professionals. San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell, who authored the tobacco ban ordinance, awarded Dr. Maa with a Certificate of Honor on Tuesday.

“This legislation is a crucial component in the fight against tobacco use and the threat it has on public health,” said Dr. Maa, a member of the San Francisco Medical Society Board of Directors. “Measures like this truly are a home run.”

“I applaud the leadership and vision of Supervisor Farrell and his [eight] co-authors to introduce this important legislation to protect the health of our baseball heroes and their young fans,” he said, “and would like to thank in advance each of the supervisors who will be voting ‘aye’ shortly.”

The California Medical Association and San Francisco Medical Society are both strong supporters of the measure, which is similar to a bill currently in the state legislature (AB 768, Thurmond) that would ban tobacco products in ballparks throughout the entire state.

Health experts have found that smokeless tobacco use is dangerous and can lead to nicotine addiction, while studies have shown smokeless tobacco use remaining steady — despite a decline in cigarette use. Additionally, about 535,000 kids ages 12-17 use smokeless tobacco for the first time each year.

The “Knock Tobacco Out of the Park” campaign was started earlier this year to help promote the ban of smokeless tobacco in ballparks. With the approval of the San Francisco ordinance, it took its first big step toward that goal. For more information, visit www.tobaccofreebaseball.org.


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