Monthly Archives

February 2016

News

Observer: Afternoon Bulletin: City Council Talks Cracking Down on Hookah

February 29, 2016

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Lovers of hookah would be well-advised to take advantage of the leap day and get some smoking in. A group of City Council members are attempting to crack down on the sale of hookah-related paraphernalia and bars at which hookah is smoked. Ydanis Rodriguez, Corey Johnson and Vincent J. Gentile have put forward a package of legislation to the council’s Committee of Health aimed at raising the legal age of purchasing hookah-related materials to 21, and banning its distribution at some bars and venues. The bills would expand the Smoke-Free Air Act to include shisha that does not contain tobacco and would impose new standards on hookah bars citywide. The bill also aims to ensure that no venue can have hookah smoked in more than five percent of its seating area at any given time. (DNAinfo)

Attendance at Broadway performances by residents of New York’s suburbs—including Long Island, Westchester County and northern New Jersey—has fallen dramatically since 2010, dropping from 21 percent of all viewership to just 15.6 percent in five years. Charlotte St. Martin of the Broadway League has blamed the development of Times Square, particularly the creation of the pedestrian plaza system in 2010, for the drop off. Costumed performers, naked star spangled “desnudas” and aggressive salespeople in the square have deterred patronage from the nearby theatres, she said. Since many suburban theatregoers drive into the city, the traffic blockages and road closures to accommodate pedestrian travel around Times Square are causing suburbanites to seek entertainment elsewhere. (New YorkDaily News)

Congressional districts in the city don’t open up often, and when they do the fight over who will succeed the outgoing representative can be fierce. Seven candidates squared off last night in the first debate before the June 28 primary to replace outgoing Rep. Charles Rangel, a Democrat who has represented the northern edge of Manhattan and parts of the southern Bronx since 1971. His district—currently the 13th, although with redistricting he has actually held five different seats since his first election—is heavily Democratic and takes in much of Harlem, parts of the Upper West Side and sections of the southern Bronx. State Sen. Bill Perkins, the frontrunner, dropped out of the race to pursue reelection instead, leaving the contest wide open. Mr. Rangel, who is 85, has previously faced primary challenges, but has held the district safely in general elections. (DNAinfo)

A woman discovered a whole horse’s head in a box on Sunday while walking in Highbridge Park. The head was cooked and prepared in a way that made it seem like a meal, with an assortment of fruits, vegetables and other animals’ bones to garnish it. Police believe the entire assemblage—which was found inside a Corona beer box—was part of a meal, potentially related to Sunday’s Dominican Republic Independence Day celebrations. Remains of goats and sheep were also found at a nearby park. (New York Post)

Rock stars, loyal customers and local residents journeyed to the East Village on Sunday to pay their respects to Trash and Vaudeville, the punk rock-inspired store known for its black skinny jeans, Doc Marten boots and other counterculture fashion pieces. While other stores on St. Marks Place will close permanently (St. Mark’s Books also shut down Sunday), Trash and Vaudeville is just moving to 96 East Seventh Street, a few blocks away. Still, the store drew notables including Marky Ramone of The Ramones and Blondie’s Chris Stein for its last day at 4 St. Marks, and many expressed sadness at the closure. (The New York Times)

News

Amazin’ Avenue SB Nation: Mets back ban on chewing tobacco at Citi Field

February 27, 2016

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Feb 27, 2016

 

he New York Mets and Major League Baseball have thrown their support behind a New York City Council measure that would ban all forms of smokeless tobacco from being used at NYC sports venues.

Councilman Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan), told the Daily News why he chose to sponsor the chewing tobacco ban:

“I couldn’t imagine us being OK as city or society as a whole with a baseball player standing in left field smoking a cigarette while the game was going on, on national television… but it seems to be, just because of culturally what has existed for a long time, it’s OK for professional athletes to stand in left field or in the dugout and chew wads of smokeless tobacco.”

The Mets also chimed in:

“Preventing children from being exposed to smokeless tobacco is an important initiative and we are glad to play our part in achieving this important goal.”

One Mets player who is almost certain to support the ban is setup man Addison Reed. Reed, who was once an avid user of chewing tobacco, abruptly quit using it after the death of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, his former college coach. Gwynn, who died in 2014 following a long battle with cancer of the mouth and salivary glands, blamed his illness on his use of dipping tobacco.

News

WABC News: NYC backs legislation banning smokeless tobacco in ballparks

February 26, 2016
The New York City Health Department is backing legislation that would ban smokeless tobacco from all ticketed sports arenas, including Yankee Stadium and Citi Field.

The proposal would ban it at all ticketed sports venues in New York City, and it would apply to fans and players.

Chewing tobacco is legendary at baseball games, and the reactions to the proposal were varied.

“That’s a part of the ball game,” fan Ronald Massenburg said. “Tobacco, peanuts Cracker Jacks, beer.”

At a hearing Thursday on several anti-smoking bills, the health department’s senior legal counsel Kevin Schroth said that every year, roughly 415,000 kids nationwide try smokeless tobacco. He said young people repeatedly see professional athletes, especially baseball players, use chewing tobacco and that makes it socially acceptable.

The law was proposed by City Councilman Corey Johnson.

“These baseball players are heroes to young people and role models,” he said. “And to have them on the field, in the dugout, with millions watching on TV, chewing tobacco and spitting it out, it’s not the right message that we want to send to young people.”

At Mets Spring Training in Port St. Lucie, third baseman David Wright weighed in on the idea.

“I think I’m torn on the whole thing,” he said. “If you think it through, you can see the pros and cons to both ways.”

The Mets organization supports the proposal, saying in part, “Preventing children from being exposed to smokeless tobacco is an important initiative and we are glad to play our part in achieving this important goal.”

The Yankees, in a statement, also fully support the proposal.

There are health issues to consider, but some like Massenberg, who worked at Yankee Stadium, are against the idea.

“Players are going to chew tobacco regardless, trust me,” he said. “And I am too from time to time.”

The tobacco products have already been banned at fields in Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Lawmakers are also targeting hookah bars by considering legislation that would add the non-tobacco shisha used in the water pipes to the city’s smoking ban.

Schroth says smokers underestimate the health risks associated with hookahs use, which is attracting more young people.

News

Gothamist: NYC May Crack Down On Non-Tobacco Smoking Too

February 25, 2016

BY MIRANDA KATZ

Smoking shisha could be banned for those under 21 and limited to a small number of existing hookah bars, if a package of bills considered by the City Council today become law.

Currently, anyone 18 years or older can smoke or purchase shisha, as well as hookah pipes or rolling papers. Councilmember Ydanis A. Rodriguez introduced two pieces of legislation today that would raise the legal minimum for those activities to 21, and ban shisha from being sold anywhere other than hookah bars, tobacco bars, and tobacco stores.

An additional piece of legislation introduced by Councilmember Vincent J. Gentile would add non-tobacco shisha to the city’s Smoke-Free Air Act, banning the opening of new hookah lounges and only allowing existing lounges to continue selling shisha if they derive more than 50 percent of their revenue from doing so.

The Smoke-Free Air Act does not currently prohibit non-tobacco shisha smoking indoors. But in the past, supposedly tobacco-free hookah lounges have been found to be serving product with tobacco in it. Those testifying before the council in favor of restrictions on shisha referenced studies that have shown it to carry many of the same risks as cigarette smoking, and that smokers take in more smoke from hookah than from cigarettes.

“Regardless of whether it’s tobacco-based or non-tobacco-based hookah, we know that the products of the combustion, both the shisha and the charcoal that’s generally used to maintain the combustion, it emits…a variety of chemical mixes that are entirely consistent with every other kind of smoke that’s out there,” said Daniel Kass, Deputy Commissioner at Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “The one thing it’s missing is nicotine.”

Hookah bar owners who testified at today’s hearing objected to the requirement that half of their revenue come from hookah, because they would also be prevented from serving hookah at more than 5 percent of their tables.

Some of the council seemed to be leaning toward a complete ban on shisha. Councilmember Corey Johnson said that “some things are allowed by law that maybe shouldn’t be allowed by law,” and Councilmember James Vacca questioned, “Why don’t we outlaw this totally? Aren’t we beating around the bush a little bit with this regulation, that regulation?”

But Councilman Antonio Reynoso, who said he was supportive of raising the age for shisha and spreading awareness of its health risks, said that banning it altogether seems a step too far, given that unlike cigarette smoking, hookah smoking is a destination activity, not something occurring at every bar or restaurant in the city.

“The individual that goes into a hookah bar would be unintelligent to think that when they walk in there’s no smoke,” he said. “It’s a smoke bar. It’s a hookah bar…I think people are making a conscious decision that they’re harming themselves.”

News

Daily Mail: Chew on that! Yankees and Mets baseball players and fans could soon be banned from using chewing tobacco

February 25, 2016

It is perhaps one of the most iconic sights in American sports – a pitcher taking to the mound with a ball in one hand, glove on the other and a wad of chewing tobacco in their cheek.

But all that could be about to change for New York baseball fans after the Health Department backed legislation calling for chewing tobacco to be banned at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field.

Health experts say young sports fans are repeatedly exposed to the practice on TV and at stadiums, making it seem ‘socially acceptable’, despite it being linked with cancer and mouth disease.

New York lawmakers are attempting to put an end to chewing tobacco on the baseball field amid concerns it could encourage young fans to take up the habit (pictured,  Yankees pitcher Sparky Lyle chews tobacco)

New York lawmakers are attempting to put an end to chewing tobacco on the baseball field amid concerns it could encourage young fans to take up the habit (pictured, Yankees pitcher Sparky Lyle chews tobacco)

Democratic councilman Corey Johnson sponsored the legislation, and told the New York Daily News he hopes it will be in place in time for the start of the 2016 season, which begins on April 3 with the Mets playing the Kansas City Royals.

He said: ‘I couldn’t imagine us being OK as a city or society as a whole with a baseball player standing in left field smoking a cigarette while the game was going on, on national television.

‘But it seems to be, just because of culturally what has existed for a long time, it’s OK for professional athletes to stand in left field or in the dugout and chew wads of smokeless tobacco.’

The legislation is almost certain to pass as it has the backing on Mayor Bill de Blasio, and officials at both the Yankees and the Mets.

Similar bans have already gone through at Boston’s Fenway Park and stadiums in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The practice has been completely banned in the minor leagues, but a deal still needs to be reached with the players’ union to bring the practice to major league baseball.

New laws would ban 'smokeless tobacco' products, including chewing tobacco, from Citi Field and Yankee Stadium, with the bill's sponsors hoping it will be in place before the start of the new season in April

New laws would ban ‘smokeless tobacco’ products, including chewing tobacco, from Citi Field and Yankee Stadium, with the bill’s sponsors hoping it will be in place before the start of the new season in April

Legal counsel Kevin Schroth said rates of young people using chewing tobacco doubled between 2007 to 2013, with 4.4 per cent reporting using the substance.

That is despite a decade-long policy drive in New York to cut the rates of tobacco use, which saw smoking rates fall to their lowest on record in 2014, at just 13.9 per cent.

Figures show anti-tobacco spending rose tenfold between 2001 and 2008 including gruesome adverts about the negative impact of smoking, plus higher taxes on tobacco products.

Legislators also approved a ban on new hookah bars opening in New York, though existing bars will be able to stay open if they can show that more than 50 per cent of their income comes from sales of the substance.

Bills were also approved to restrict the sale of non-tobacco shisha, which is sometimes used in the Middle-Eastern pipes.

New laws mean shisha must be sold through smoke shops, will only be available to those aged over 21, and access to shisha bars will be restricted to the same age group.

News

New York Daily News: New York moves a step closer to banning smokeless tobacco at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, takes aim at curbing growth of hookah bars

February 25, 2016

BY

Thursday, February 25, 2016, 5:42 PM
Chew on this — baseball players at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field could soon be banned from chomping on smokeless tobacco.The city Health Department backed legislation Thursday to prohibit the substance — which has a long history of use by baseball players but can cause cancer — from all sports arenas, including the homes of the Yankees and Mets.

“Unfortunately, our young people repeatedly see professional athletes, especially baseball players, using smokeless tobacco, making this practice appear socially acceptable,” said senior legal counsel Kevin Schroth.

He said the use of smokeless tobacco — which is linked to cancer and mouth disease — doubled among city youth from 2007 to 2013, with 4.4% of kids now using it.

At a hearing on a slew of anti-smoking legislations, the administration also backed bills to ban the opening of new hookah bars, allowing current ones to stay in business only if they get more than half their sales from hookah, and to bar the sale of hookah tobacco at most stores.

Councilman Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) sponsored the chewing tobacco ban — and hopes to see it in place in time for this year’s opening day.

The Yankees and Mets have both said they support the proposed ban on chewing tobacco.Antonelli, Ron

The Yankees and Mets have both said they support the proposed ban on chewing tobacco.

“I couldn’t imagine us being OK as a city or society as a whole with a baseball player standing in left field smoking a cigarette while the game was going on, on national television,” said Johnson, chair of the Council health committee. “But it seems to be, just because of culturally what has existed for a long time, it’s OK for professional athletes to stand in left field or in the dugout and chew wads of smokeless tobacco.”

The Yankees and the Mets have said they support the ban, according to city officials.

Similar bans have already gone through at Boston’s Fenway Park and stadiums in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Sparky Lyle (shown here, in a 1976 photo) was a big user of chewing tobacco. So was Tony Gwynn, who died of cancer of the salivary glands, and Curt Schilling, who battled oral cancer.Focus On Sport/Getty Images

Sparky Lyle (shown here, in a 1976 photo) was a big user of chewing tobacco. So was Tony Gwynn, who died of cancer of the salivary glands, and Curt Schilling, who battled oral cancer.

Major League Baseball has tried to rid the game of the practice — which is already banned in the minor leagues — but hasn’t reached a deal with the players’ union.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is pushing cities with teams around the country to bar the product.

“Ball players aren’t just indulging in a harmless habit when they use smokeless tobacco — they’re damaging their health with an addictive produce that causes cancer and other serious diseases,” said Kevin O’Flaherty, the group’s northeast director. “And they’re endangering the well-being of millions of kids who look up to them.”

Once a fixture in the majors, chewing tobacco's use is being stemmed by Major League Baseball.Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Once a fixture in the majors, chewing tobacco’s use is being stemmed by Major League Baseball.

Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn died of cancer of the salivary glands, while former star pitcher Curt Schilling battled oral cancer.

The de Blasio administration also embraced the move to rein in hookah bars, adding the non-tobacco shisha used in the water pipes to the city’s smoking ban. Other pieces of legislation would restrict the retail sale of shisha to tobacco stores only, and raise the minimum age to buy it or patronize a hookah bar to 21.

“Indoor smoking continues to plague our city and threaten the health of so many New Yorkers,” said Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Brooklyn). “Non-tobacco shisha is at least as dangerous as cigarettes.”

But business owners bashed regulations. “It’s become law after law after law, and we’re the victims,” said Mohamed Bashir, who owns two Manhattan hookah bars. “We want to work with the law, with the Health [department], but we don’t want to shut down.”

News

Sports Media 101: NYC Looks to Ban Smokeless Tobacco at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field

February 6, 2016

February 6th, 2016 at 11:38 AM
By Douglas Rush

In an effort to rid smokeless tobacco from Major League Baseball stadium and ballparks, three stadiums have officially banned smokeless tobacco from their stadiums for the 2016 season: AT&T Park in San Francisco, Fenway Park in Boston and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

Soon, two more prominent stadiums could be joining the three in the effort to rid smokeless tobacco from the ballparks, as Corey Johnson, a member of the New York City council, is set to introduce a bill that would ban it from Yankee Stadium and Citi Field.

“We need to do it quick,” Mr. Johnson said. “It is possible, but unusual. Things don’t move so quickly. But since both teams are on board, and all the advocates are on board, and because I believe we’ll receive widespread support from the Council, I think we can get it done.”

The New York Times reported that both the Yankees and Mets have told Johnson that they will support the bill and its efforts to get passed. In each of the three other cities that have passed it in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston, the bill passed unanimously for each town.

Johnson is hopeful that the bill will be approved and signed by New York City mayor Bill De Blasio and to have it go in effect before Opening Day for the 2016 season.

Major League Baseball has tried to ban smokeless tobacco in the past across the entire sport, but the players union has rejected such proposals in collective bargaining negotiations. A fan from the city though would overrule the players union though, except it would only be in the cities with the bill as opposed to the sport trying to initiate the ban.

News

BREITBART: NYC Looks to Ban Smokeless Tobacco at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field

February 6, 2016

Johnny Mize Yankees Chewing Tobacco

Following in a path carved by Boston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, New York City aims to launch a bill that would ban smokeless tobacco from Yankee Stadium and Citi Field.

City council member Corey Johnson introduced the bill on Friday which would prohibit the use of the substance at the home of the Yankees and the Mets along with other public arenas in the five boroughs, the New York Times reported.

The president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Matthew Myers, claims “If New York passes this bill, and I think it will, it moves us dramatically closer to the day when smokeless tobacco is prohibited in all major league cities.”

Starting with the 2016 MLB season, AT&T Park in San Francisco, Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, and Fenway Park in Boston all ban the use of smokeless tobacco both on the field and in the clubhouse.

The Times further reports that both MLB and the players’ union demonstrated signs that a movement to bar chewing tobacco was underway when they hired the director of the Rutgers University tobacco-dependence program, Dr. Michael Steinberg, to serve as a consultant to help players kick the popular habit.

The Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society released a study in 2014 indicating that as many as one in three major leaguers use smokeless tobacco.

Johnson, the chairman of the Council’s Committee on Health, wants to fast track the bill, get it approved by the end of February for Mayor Bill de Blasio to sign, and instated by the start of the 2016 season.

New York Mets superstar third baseman David Wright weighed in on the potential ban, saying, “On one hand, I would argue we are adults and that’s a choice we choose to make.” Yet, he added, “On the other hand, we are role models and the last thing we want is for an underage kid to begin using because they watched their favorite players do it.”

Craig Calcaterra points out in his article at NBC Sports that Minor League Baseball already bans players from using smokeless tobacco and MLB prohibits major league players from using it when cameras are present during games.

He adds that “in a larger sense, I appreciate that there are some sticky considerations when it comes to regulating the otherwise legal behavior of consenting adults, but I don’t lose much sleep over tobacco regulation in public places. People talk about slippery slopes and the like, but tobacco is different and far more dangerous than large sodas.”