State Representative Mike Freiberg has introduced legislation that would prohibit the use of all tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes, at Minnesota sports stadiums. This bill continues the momentum of other cities across the country prohibiting tobacco in stadiums under the “Knock Tobacco Out of the Park” campaign.
“We applaud Representative Freiberg for working to make stadiums tobacco-free, and especially for getting smokeless tobacco off the playing field,” said David Willoughby, Chief Executive Officer at ClearWay Minnesota. “Tobacco use in professional sports sends the wrong message to young fans that smokeless tobacco is cool or even safe to use. Nothing could be further from the truth. Smokeless tobacco can lead to nicotine addiction and serious health problems, including oral, pancreatic and esophageal cancer.”
A national study shows that high school athletes are increasingly using smokeless tobacco, commonly referred to as chew or dip. More than 11 percent of high school athletes nationwide, and an alarming 17.4 percent of male high school athletes, reported using smokeless tobacco in 2013 according to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That is compared to 5.9 percent of high school non-athletes using smokeless tobacco.
The Minnesota Department of Health’s 2014 Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey found that 6.2 percent of all high school students statewide use smokeless tobacco. Boys are seven times more likely than girls to use smokeless tobacco. In fact, 21.6 percent of Minnesota high school boys have tried smokeless tobacco, and 10.8 percent are current users.
“ClearWay Minnesota is glad that Minnesota lawmakers support this important measure,” said Willoughby. “By keeping tobacco out of sports stadiums, we can help protect the health of our kids by decreasing their exposure to tobacco use. Kids look up to athletes and ensuring their sports stars set a good example is a great way to encourage healthy habits among young fans.”