Tobacco usage in sport

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Tobacco usage in sport is a well documented and publicised occurrence. Tobacco advertising has connected itself to sports both for the connotations of health that sports provide, as well as the marketing potential of famous athletes. Additionally, tobacco has played a role in the sport of baseball specifically and has affected both the rules affecting players and fan alike. Agencies such as the CDC have used sports as platforms for tobacco prevention programs, specifically targeted at younger people.



Back of an old baseball card White Borders baseball card reverse.JPG
Back of an old baseball card

For many years, tobacco companies have played a monumental role in advertising within the sports industry. Major tobacco companies have employed the strategies of athletic endorsements, sponsorships of major athletic events, and creating powerful associations of tobacco and active lifestyles in order to advertise their products. The connection between sports and tobacco can be traced back to the origins of professional sports. [1] Shortly after the National Baseball League's inception in 1876, trading cards with player's images emerged within cigarette packages. [2] One of the oldest brands of chewing tobacco, Bull Durham, advertised on outfield fences in baseball parks in the United States South. [2] Despite this long-standing history, there have been many recent developments and changes in tobacco's relation to athletics. Currently, trends have shifted as athletes today are more likely to endorse tobacco prevention efforts as opposed to tobacco products.


From the 1920s to 1940s baseball furthered its relation with tobacco. Every major league team had a cigarette sponsor and baseball's greatest athletes such as Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, and Ted Williams, all appeared in cigarette advertisements. [2] Lou Gehrig endorsed R. J. ReynoldsCamels, saying he could smoke as many as he pleased and creating the slogan that Camels “don’t get your wind.” [3]

As tensions mounted in the 1950s, with smoking's correlation to lung cancer, the Commissioner of Baseball prohibited players from wearing their uniforms in cigarette advertisements. While baseball cracked down on endorsements, the National Football League not only permitted players to appear in tobacco advertisements but also signed Philip MorrisMarlboro as its major television sponsor. [2] Of these players, one of the most prominent was Frank Gifford. Gifford played for the New York Giants in the 1950s and 1960s and later became a famous sportscaster. In his prime, Gifford endorsed a wide range of products, including The American Tobacco Company's Lucky Strike cigarettes. [4]

In 1964, the tobacco industry began to anticipate increased federal regulation and voluntarily adopted the Cigarette Advertising Code, stating it would not “depict as a smoker any person well known as being, or having been, an athlete…[or] any person participating in, or obviously having just participated in, physical activity requiring stamina or athletic conditioning beyond that of normal recreation”. Under this code, athletes and celebrities were no longer allowed to give testimonials, but nonetheless the industry blatantly disregarded its own guidelines. [2]

In October 2009, Baisha, China’s largest cigarette company, signed Liu Xiang, an Olympic gold medalist hurdler, to endorse its cigarettes in both print advertisements and televised commercials. [2]


Traditionally, cigarette companies have had a strong relationship with motor racing. After tobacco companies were forced to pull out of advertising in NASCAR, Nicorette has entered the NASCAR arena and signed a three-year contract as part of an extension by GlaxoSmithKline, then the owner of Goody's Headache Powders, a long-time NASCAR sponsor. [5] NASCAR's deal with Nicorette was only for one year, but its association with Hendrick Motorsports lasted from 2006 to 2008 with Jeff Gordon with sponsorship on the hood and primary colours (Gordon from 1993 to 2010 required the identity of the former E. I. DuPont and Nemours company on the side and tail panels, so the Nicorette on the hood was accompanied by DuPont on the side). Winston stepped down after 33 years as title sponsor of NASCAR's championship series and was replaced by Nextel. [5] Nicorette sees a great market as NASCAR fans are 28% more likely to smoke than other adults. The firm also reported that they smoke 18% more cigarettes than other adults. [5] Since Nicorette has signed on as a sponsor, there has been a substantial decrease in the amount of NASCAR employees who smoke. Nicorette began its quit smoking program in 2004, providing NASCAR members with training sessions and one-on-one counseling. Additionally, Nicorette has counseled about 250,000 race fans on how to quit smoking since 2005. [6]

Cigarette companies have explored the sponsorship of rodeo since the early 1970s. From 1986 to 2009 the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association was sponsored by the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company as well as the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) since 1974. [7] The association severed its ties with the tobacco industry in 2009, allowing rodeo culture to return to its status before tobacco's involvement in 1986. “Cowboy Ted” Hallisey, a prominent print and broadcast journalist for rodeo events stated “Without big tobacco, rodeos will move into mainstream sports because they will be more comfortable for children and families to attend”. [8]

Advertising strategies

In the early 1900s the tobacco industry sought to pair smoking with active and healthy lifestyles. Through its advertisements, the tobacco industry created associations between smoking and recreational and athletic activities like tennis, golf, swimming, football, track and field, skiing, and ice skating. These activities were often depicted in cigarette advertising as activities demanding a cigarette for enhanced performance and even good health. American Tobacco's Lucky Strikes ran a successful advertising campaign that urged men and women “To keep a slender figure, reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet.” Brandt, Allan (2007). The Cigarette Century . Basic Books. p.  78. ISBN   978-0-465-07047-3. Smokeless tobacco in baseball urged adolescents to buy their product by using slogans such as "May cause the urge to act like a man." [9]

Advertising and Sponsorship in Australia

One of the first countries to ever legislate the end of tobacco advertising and sponsorship at sporting events was Australia. [10]

Quit Victoria in Australia, stated that the three major sponsors for sport in 1980 were the largest tobacco companies. [11] In 1989, the tobacco industry put a whopping 34 million dollars into cricket and rugby league. Although advertisement of tobacco products on television had been banned in 1976, on ground advertising and naming rights to oppositions and events was tactically used by tobacco companies; for example, the Benson and Hedges logo would appear for approximately 90 minutes in a day’s play of test cricket. [10] The tobacco advertising prohibition act 1992, prohibited nearly all of tobaccos advertising and sponsorships in sporting events. However, under section 18 of the Act, there was power to allow an exception to the general ban on tobacco advertising in Australia for sporting events of international significance. [12] In 2000, there was an amendment to remove this act and Australian sport became totally tobacco sponsorship and advertisement free in October 2006. [10]

Smokeless tobacco

Chewing tobacco Tuggtobak.jpg
Chewing tobacco

Smokeless tobacco: chewing tobacco, spit tobacco, dry snuff, snus, or ‘tabac à chiquer’ in France, is very common in some sports. [13] There is little data on the number of athletes that use smokeless tobacco, but a study showed that approximately 45 percent of major league baseball players have been reported to use smokeless tobacco. [14] Athletes apparently used smokeless tobacco to enhance their performance because nicotine improved certain aspects of physiology. [13] However, it has been found that smokeless tobacco can cause many harmful health effects such as cancer, mouth and tooth problems, heart disease and high blood pressure. [15]

Baseball and tobacco

Advertisement featuring Joe Dimaggio in 1941 Joe dimaggio camel ad.jpg
Advertisement featuring Joe Dimaggio in 1941

Between 1920 until 1940, when baseball was America's most popular sport, every team had a tobacco sponsor. [2] It is common perception that many baseball players use tobacco. According to the MLB however this practice is changing and declining. [16] One source states that a reason chewing tobacco usage increased among baseball players was the misconception that it improved concentration, overall performance and was less harmful than smoking a cigarette. Contrary to this, chewing tobacco does not have an established connection to the performance of baseball players. [17] As more information about the dangers of chewing tobacco has come to light it has become stigmatized within baseball itself with players, staff and managers often having to "sneak" off to partake. These individuals understand that children will easily copy their actions and try to hide them now, as they are negative role models for youth. Most players have made attempts to quit, but the majority struggle in breaking their addiction. [18] Lenny Dykstra, the former Philadelphia Phillies center-fielder, started dipping at a young age, unaware of how difficult quitting would be. He tells young children, "They call me "Nails" because they say I'm as tough as nails. But I'm not tough enough to beat the spit-tobacco habit. Copy my hustle, copy my determination. But don't copy my spit-tobacco habit." [18] In addition Major League Baseball has taken actions to lower tobacco usage amongst its players. This includes a complete ban on tobacco with fines for players and their managers if it is discovered. In the major leagues tobacco companies are no longer allowed to leave free products in stadium clubhouses for the players, with a ban effective December 5, 2016, in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that prohibits players entering MLB for the first time from using tobacco. (Players who had experience in MLB prior to the day are grandfathered.) [16] Baseball stadiums have stricter tobacco policies for patrons as well though the level of strictness varies per stadium. [19]

A breakdown of Major League Baseball teams by stadium smoking policies. [19]
TeamNo smoking allowed (no re-entry)Re-entry allowed for SmokingDesignated smoking insideDesignated smoking within grounds
Arizona Diamondbacks X
Atlanta Braves X
Baltimore Orioles X
Boston Red Sox X
Chicago Cubs x
Chicago White Sox X
Cincinnati Reds X
Cleveland Guardians X
Colorado Rockies X
Detroit Tigers X
Houston Astros X
Kansas City Royals X
Los Angeles Angels X
Los Angeles Dodgers X
Miami Marlins X
Milwaukee Brewers X
Minnesota Twins X
New York Mets X
New York Yankees X
Oakland Athletics X
Philadelphia Phillies X
Pittsburgh Pirates X
St. Louis Cardinals X
San Diego Padres X
San Francisco Giants X
Seattle Mariners X
Tampa Bay Rays X
Texas Rangers X
Toronto Blue Jays X
Washington Nationals X

Tobacco prevention and sports

The majority of tobacco smokers start smoking before they graduate high school. The CDC has identified youth sports as an area where tobacco education and prevention will help limit the number of first time smokers and has begun a Tobacco Free Sports Movement to encourage non smoking practices in athletics. [20] The CDC has paired with many large organizations to achieve this goal. These include public health agencies such as the National Cancer Institute, and sport regulatory bodies such as FIFA and the International Olympic Committee to further the efforts of tobacco elimination in sports. [20] The 2008 Beijing Olympics banned not only tobacco usage, but advertising, sponsorship, promotion and sale of tobacco products in Olympic venues. [21] The last Olympics with a tobacco company as a sponsor were in 1984, and control has gotten stricter since then (as can be seen from the Beijing regulations). [22] On a smaller scale there are regional efforts to create tobacco free sports initiatives such as the Tobacco-Free Athletes of Maine. This organization seeks to have coaches educate their young athletes about the effects of tobacco. [23]

Many athletes have become spokespersons for anti-tobacco and tobacco prevention efforts. Early in the 20th century Hall of Fame baseball player Honus Wagner would not allow a cigarette company to use his picture on a tobacco trading card. [22] Since then famous athletes like skateboarder Tony Hawk [20] and baseball player Sammy Sosa have supported tobacco prevention. [17] Events such as the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout also make use of athletes to support their anti-tobacco efforts. In 2000, the American Cancer Society had Alonzo Mourning of the Miami Heat (with other athletes) speak to children about the dangers of smoking. [24] One of the best soccer players of all time, Pele, refused to endorse cigarettes at a time when professional athletes made a fraction of what they earn today in advertising. [ ]

Recently in the 2010 Winter Olympics, the Canada women's national ice hockey team celebrated their gold medal victory on the ice with both cigars and tobacco. As the Vancouver Olympics were a tobacco free event, the International Olympic Committee decided to look into the celebration since it was a breach of anti-tobacco rules. [25]

List of athletes who have supported tobacco prevention in sport

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chewing tobacco</span> Type of smokeless tobacco product

Chewing tobacco is a type of smokeless tobacco product that is placed between the cheek and lower gum to draw out its flavor. It consists of coarsely chopped aged tobacco that is flavored and often sweetened; it is not ground fine like dipping tobacco. Unwanted juices are then spat.

Nicotine gum is a chewing gum containing the active ingredient nicotine polacrilex. It is a type of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) used alone or in combination with other pharmacotherapy for smoking cessation and for quitting smokeless tobacco.

Nicorette is the brand name of a number of products for nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) that contain nicotine polacrilex. Developed in the late 1970s in Sweden by AB Leo in the form of a chewing gum, Nicorette was the first nicotine replacement product on the market.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">America's Best Chew</span> Brand of chewing tobacco

America's Best Chew is an American brand of chewing tobacco which was first introduced in 1904.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Silk Cut</span> British brand of cigarettes

Silk Cut is a British brand of cigarettes, currently owned and manufactured by Gallaher Group, a division of Japan Tobacco. The packaging is characterised by a distinctive stark white packet with the brand name in a purple, blue, red, silver, white or green square.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nicotine marketing</span> Marketing technique

Nicotine marketing is the marketing of nicotine-containing products or use. Traditionally, the tobacco industry markets cigarette smoking, but it is increasingly marketing other products, such as electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products. Products are marketed through social media, stealth marketing, mass media, and sponsorship. Expenditures on nicotine marketing are in the tens of billions a year; in the US alone, spending was over US$1 million per hour in 2016; in 2003, per-capita marketing spending was $290 per adult smoker, or $45 per inhabitant. Nicotine marketing is increasingly regulated; some forms of nicotine advertising are banned in many countries. The World Health Organization recommends a complete tobacco advertising ban.

Dipping tobacco is a type of finely ground or shredded, moistened smokeless tobacco product. It is commonly and idiomatically known as "dip". Dipping tobacco is used by placing a pinch, or "dip", of tobacco between the lip and the gum. The act of using it is called dipping. Dip is colloquially called "chaw", "snuff", "rub", or "fresh leaf" among other terms; because of this, it is sometimes confused with other tobacco products—namely nasal/dry snuff.

Winston is an American brand of cigarettes, currently owned and manufactured by ITG Brands, subsidiary of Imperial Tobacco in the United States and by Japan Tobacco outside the U.S. The brand is named after the town where R. J. Reynolds started his business which is Winston-Salem, North Carolina. As of 2017, Winston has the seventh-highest U.S. market share of all cigarette brands, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Maxwell Report.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Smokeless tobacco</span> Tobacco product used by means other than smoking.

Smokeless tobacco is a tobacco product that is used by means other than smoking. Their use involves chewing, sniffing, or placing the product between gum and the cheek or lip. Smokeless tobacco products are produced in various forms, such as chewing tobacco, snuff, snus, and dissolvable tobacco products. Smokeless tobacco products typically contain over 3000 constituents. All smokeless tobacco products contain nicotine and are therefore highly addictive. Quitting smokeless tobacco use is as challenging as smoking cessation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tobacconist</span> Retailer of tobacco and other products

A tobacconist, also called a tobacco shop, a tobacconist's shop or a smoke shop, is a retailer of tobacco products in various forms and the related accoutrements, such as pipes, lighters, matches, pipe cleaners, and pipe tampers. More specialized retailers might sell ashtrays, humidification devices, hygrometers, humidors, cigar cutters, and more. Books and magazines, especially ones related to tobacco are commonly offered. Items irrelevant to tobacco such as puzzles, games, figurines, hip flasks, walking sticks, and confectionery are sometimes sold.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act</span>

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, is a federal statute in the United States that was signed into law by President Barack Obama on June 22, 2009. The Act gives the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate the tobacco industry. A signature element of the law imposes new warnings and labels on tobacco packaging and their advertisements, with the goal of discouraging minors and young adults from smoking. The Act also bans flavored cigarettes, places limits on the advertising of tobacco products to minors and requires tobacco companies to seek FDA approval for new tobacco products.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tobacco in the United States</span>

Tobacco has a long history in the United States.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Youth smoking</span> Overview article

Smokingamong youth and adolescents is an issue that affects countries worldwide. While the extent to which smoking is viewed as a negative health behavior may vary across different nations, it remains an issue regardless of how it is perceived by different societies. The United States has taken numerous measures, ranging from changes in national policy surrounding youth cigarette access to changes in media campaigns, in attempts to eliminate the use of tobacco products among teenagers. Approximately 90% of smokers begin smoking prior to the age of 18.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Regulation of tobacco by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration</span>

Regulation of tobacco by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began in 2009 with the passage of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act by the United States Congress. With this statute, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was given the ability to regulate tobacco products.

Tobacco marketing targeting African-Americans refers to the practice of customizing tobacco products and advertising techniques specifically to African-American consumers. It is most commonly analyzed through the consumption of mentholated cigarettes, as it represents 47% of black adult smokers and 84% of adolescent black smokers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Smoking in Egypt</span> Overview of smoking in Egypt

The use of tobacco products in Egypt is widespread. It is estimated that approximately twenty percent of the population uses tobacco products daily. Cigarettes are the most common form of tobacco consumption in Egypt, with an estimated twenty billion cigarettes smoked annually in the country. After cigarettes, shisha water-pipes are the most common form of tobacco consumption.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Smoking in Indonesia</span>

There are approximately 57 million smokers in Indonesia, among a population of 273 million people. Around 63% of men and 5% of women report smoking, equating to 34% of the population. The majority, 88% of Indonesian smokers, use clove-flavoured kreteks. Kretek manufacturers directly employ over 180,000 people in Indonesia and an additional 10 million indirectly. Indonesia is the fifth largest tobacco market in the world, and in 2008 over 165 billion cigarettes were sold in the country.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Regulation of nicotine marketing</span> Regulations regarding the advertising of nicotine-containing products

As nicotine is highly addictive, marketing nicotine-containing products is regulated in most jurisdictions. Regulations include bans and regulation of certain types of advertising, and requirements for counter-advertising of facts generally not included in ads. Regulation is circumvented using less-regulated media, such as Facebook, less-regulated nicotine delivery products, such as e-cigarettes, and less-regulated ad types, such as industry ads which claim to discourage nicotine addiction but seem, according to independent studies, to promote teen nicotine use.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of nicotine marketing</span>

The history of nicotine marketing stretches back centuries. Nicotine marketing has continually developed new techniques in response to historical circumstances, societal and technological change, and regulation. Counter marketing has also changed, in both message and commonness, over the decades, often in response to pro-nicotine marketing.

Electronic cigarettes are marketed to smoking and non-smoking men, women, and children as being safer than cigarettes. E-cigarette businesses have considerably accelerated their marketing spending. All of the large tobacco businesses are engaging in the marketing of e-cigarettes. For the majority of the large tobacco businesses these products are quickly becoming a substantial part of the total advertising spending. E-cigarette businesses have a vested interest in maximizing the number of long-term product users. The entrance of traditional transnational tobacco businesses in the marketing of such products is a serious threat to restricting tobacco use. E-cigarette businesses have been using intensive marketing strategies like those used to publicize traditional cigarettes in the 1950s and 1960s. While advertising of tobacco products is banned in most countries, television and radio e-cigarette advertising in several countries may be indirectly encouraging traditional cigarette use.


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