Positive Environments: St. Louis City sports facilities now smokeless tobacco free

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Welcome to the first installment of a section of the Sportsmanship Blog called “Positive Environments.” The Sportsmanship Foundation’s mission is to implement activities and programs that promote sportsmanship, create positive environments for kids to play sports, and help young people lead healthier, happier lives.

We are fully aware that we cannot create every positive environment on our own. There is a vast collection of community stakeholders who share our mission in spirit, even if they don’t know the words verbatim. Such is the case in the City of St. Louis; which passed an ordinance earlier this year prohibiting smokeless tobacco in all sports facilities.

The Major League Baseball season begins its regular season this week and the sport overall is rich in positive traditions – healthy activity, Sunday afternoons with the family and we can’t leave out a good supply of peanuts and Cracker Jacks.

However, the use of smokeless tobacco has been one of baseball’s less-than-healthy traditions. Smokeless tobacco contributes to the development of heart disease and well as several head and neck cancers. Fortunately, the tide is turning. Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals, has been smoke-free since 2007 and is now the 14th MLB ballpark to ban smokeless tobacco as well.

The lasting impact, though, will be at the youth level. If kids don’t see smokeless tobacco at their games used by coaches, parents and other adults, they are less likely to pick up the habit. The youth and professional games are very different, but this is one instance where kids can emulate their favorite ballplayer any day of the week.

Thanks to the City of St. Louis, the St. Louis Cardinals, Major League Baseball and the American Heart Association for helping to make St. Louis City sports facilities positive environments for kids.