Baltimore City Council overwhelmingly approved a proposal Monday to ban the use of tobacco by both fans and athletes in stadiums within the city, including Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium, sending the measure already backed by the Orioles to Mayor Brandon Scott’s desk.
The bill, introduced by Councilman Kristerfer Burnett, passed the council unanimously with five members absent and is expected to draw a signature from Scott, a Democrat. It will also ban nicotine products within stadiums.
The effort in Baltimore to ban all tobacco products in stadiums follows similar steps by most other MLB cities, as the organization Tobacco-Free Kids has advocated for local bans around the country. As of Jan. 1, 2023, the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation reported that 24 of the 30 MLB ballparks prohibit smoking, including electronic cigarettes, inside the stadium. Sixteen stadiums in 2023 prohibited smokeless tobacco, too.
Smoking was first banned in all seated areas of Camden Yards in 1993. That ban was extended later to prohibit smoking and the carrying of lit tobacco products within 25 feet of the park, including at the B&O Warehouse and other outdoor spaces along the stadium’s gates.
The Baltimore Ravens, meanwhile, prohibit fans from bringing e-cigarettes into M&T Bank Stadium and have four designated smoking areas located 25 feet away from the stadium entry gates.
But more than any other sport, baseball has a long-held connection to tobacco products. The MLB has attempted to rein in their use in recent years, issuing a partial ban in its 2016 collective bargaining agreement that didn’t allow any new players in the league to use smokeless tobacco. And in 1993 Minor League Baseball prohibited the use of all tobacco products for those players.
In announcing their support for the legislation last month, the Orioles said they would also be banning the use of tobacco products among team staff members — including players. The Major League Baseball team said in a statement last month that it would “offer professional services for any employee seeking help in breaking the addiction.”
The organization’s policy would also apply to its two Florida training complexes: the Ed Smith Stadium complex, which hosts spring training, and the Buck O’Neil complex at Twin Lakes Park.
“Working in professional baseball, we each have a responsibility to continue to improve the game for the next generation,” said Kerry Watson, Orioles executive vice president of public affairs, in a statement last month. “We are proud to take this step and to continue to do our part in making our game and our community better for the next generation.”
Burnett, a Democrat, said last month that his legislation would benefit the health of the community and “motivate our young people to enjoy sports without tobacco.”
The bill will prohibit any tobacco and nicotine products, including cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, snuff, snus, electronic smoking devices, filters, rolling papers, pipes, and liquids used in electric smoking devices, regardless of nicotine content. The prohibition will not apply to products and devices approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Under the City Council’s legislation, players who don’t abide by local tobacco and nicotine regulations in Baltimore’s stadiums can be subject to fines of up to $500.