“I can’t go all that time without a smoke,” he said almost-desperately as I relayed to him the information. Starting in March at all events held in Oriole Park at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium, smoking is prohibited. No more designated smoking areas, banned completely inside the stadiums as well as 25 feet from the entrances outside the stadium. He is my uncle, in his mid-fifties, an Oriole fan for decades, a smoker for probably longer, and a common visitor to both Memorial Stadium and Camden Yards. “I won’t go,” he added.
“Earl Weaver smoked in the dugout!” he pleaded.
It’s a fair feeling for those struggling with the nicotine addiction who want to enjoy a sporting event in Baltimore. Orioles games can last as long as three hours (five if you are also enjoying things such as batting practice). Ravens games usually last about three, as well — from kick off to the final whistle, that is.
My uncle is not alone. According to the 2012 United States Census, in a telephone survey performed in 2009, 13.8 percent of Maryland residents reported that they have smoked more than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and currently smoke every day or some days. With roughly 5.8 million Maryland residents, that is about 800,500 smokers.
Another of those 800,500 is Josh Doyle of Ellicott City who attended every Ravens home game in 2012 as well as three road games and around a dozen Orioles games. Doyle said the ban confused him, especially since technically he was smoking in open air and away from everyone in that designated areas in both M&T Bank Stadium and Camden Yards. And really, he has a point.
Doyle said he smoked after the first quarter and during halftime at Ravens games, but the new ban will be tough. “I can’t sit [through] a full game without a smoke, [especially] when alcohol is involved,” said Doyle.
The Camden Yards Sports Complex which encompasses both Oriole Park and M&T Bank Stadium says they are working for a re-entry plan for the smokers. Special bracelets and a ticket as well as a designated gate are most likely a part of the plan for those who need a cigarette in the middle of games. However, the re-entry plan is just speculation, and has not been confirmed by the Sports Complex. Keep in mind, smokers would have to be at least 25 feet from any entrance and from the stadium.
Doyle is banking on the re-entry. He says the ban will not affect his attendance at games, but make him plan his smoke breaks more strategically, “I’ll just smoke less if I don’t want to miss part of the game.”