Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco—these cities aren’t just rich with baseball history. They’re also the first three to ban smokeless tobacco in their ballparks and any ticketed ballpark event. New York, Chicago, Oakland, Anaheim, San Diego, and Toronto are on their heels and the rest of Major League Baseball may not be far behind as they aim to act as a positive role model to young fans. While many articles focus on the impact on the players themselves, it will also have a huge impact on fans and as a result, an impact on venue managers. How do these bans affect us and how do we help enforce something that is as much a part of baseball history as peanuts and Cracker Jack?
Venue managers have a responsibility to enforce their prohibited items policy and in this instance, ensuring that venues stay smoke-free including the use of tobacco. In speaking with local venue managers, there is some concern as to how we enforce something that is done so frequently and, often times, discreetly. However, it should be easy! Whatever your venue’s policy is in enforcing non-smoking, prohibited items or unruly guests, just do the same thing for tobacco users. If your ushers give a warning for the first offense and ask guests to leave after the second offense, do the same thing with tobacco. Just because it’s entrenched in baseball history doesn’t mean we can’t enforce and spearhead change.
An important aspect in enforcing any new policy is getting the message out early and often. Venue managers can work with their marketing, ticketing, and social media staff ahead of time on content and information to send out to season ticket holders and guests informing them of the new policies. Have your staff ready to explain to guests not just that the policy has changed but why. Guests are much more responsive if they understand why something is happening as opposed to telling them that they simply just can’t do something they’re accustomed to doing. We’ve seen this recently with walk-through magnetometers and soon we’ll see it with protective netting. Both are good examples of how change can be enforced and ultimately embraced by fans.
These tobacco bans can also serve as a reminder that new policies can actually help us as they are good opportunities to “get back to basics” with our game-day staff. This allows the opportunity to refresh and reinforce our training, clarify any confusion on current policies, and set a standard moving forward to include the new policies. This will also help keep your front-line staff sharp and ready to handle any incident that comes up.
For more information on the tobacco-free initiative across cities, visit this website http://tobaccofreebaseball.org/content/.
(Image: Eric Kilby/Creative Commons)