The Orioles pledged their support Wednesday for a Baltimore City Council bill that would ban the use of tobacco and nicotine products at stadiums, including Camden Yards, within the city limits.

The Major League Baseball organization issued a statement noting that it will also ban the use of tobacco products at both of its Florida training complexes: Ed Smith Stadium Complex, which hosts spring training, and the Buck O’Neil Complex at Twin Lakes Park.

Additionally, the Orioles banned the use of tobacco products among staff members — including players — and the team said it will “offer professional services for any employee seeking help in breaking the addiction.”

“As an organization, our top priority is to ensure that we are always doing what is best for our club and our community,” Orioles Executive Vice President of Public Affairs Kerry Watson said in a statement. “That is why, after numerous conversations with our front office, coaching staff, and city officials, we have made the decision to support the City’s ban of tobacco products at stadiums throughout Baltimore.”

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

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 gates.

The Baltimore Ravens 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.

Baseball, more than any other sport, has had a long-standing connection to tobacco products. But MLB has attempted to rein in their use, 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.

The move from Baltimore to ban all tobacco products is one most MLB cities have undertaken. 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.

There are potential fines for players who do not abide by local tobacco and nicotine regulations in stadiums. According to a Fox Sports story in 2023, Orioles left-hander DL Hall said he uses Zyns — a type of nicotine pouch — as a way to break the habit of dip.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“They’re still definitely addictive because they have nicotine, but they don’t have the same harmful chemicals that tobacco has,” Hall told Fox Sports.

The ordinance would alter the city’s existing health code on tobacco usage, which prohibits smoking indoors. It would exempt products and devices approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

A memorandum from the city’s law department says that, while state law regulates the packaging, sale and distribution of tobacco products, that doesn’t prevent local government restrictions on use in certain locations.

“I’m a devoted fan of the Baltimore Orioles for life, and I’m ecstatic that they support our rational public health initiative for Baltimore City,” City Councilman Kristerfer Burnett, one of the bill’s sponsors, said in a statement to The Banner. “Tobacco jeopardizes the health of everyone in sports, from the fans to the players. By eliminating tobacco products at sporting events, we express that we care about our community’s well-being. We also motivate our young people to enjoy sports without tobacco.

“After introducing this, I received a call from a constituent who shared that they had developed a terrible habit of using chewing tobacco after watching major league baseball games as a child,” the Democrat (District 8) continued. “He was thankful that we were working with our partners in the Tobacco Free Kids coalition to remove it from the game in Baltimore City.”

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

The ordinance states that any person who violates the provisions can be fined up to $500.

“Working in professional baseball, we each have a responsibility to continue to improve the game for the next generation,” Watson said. “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.”

Seven council members have signed on to the bill as sponsors.

Andy Kostka is an Orioles beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Orioles for The Baltimore Sun. Kostka graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Rockville.

More From The Banner