This Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 will mark one of the last days fans will be permitted to light up in the grandstands at the Daytona International Speedway.
Starting this summer, a smoking ban will prevent Daytona Speedway attendees from smoking in their seats. Smokers will instead have to go to designated smoking areas behind the grandstand. (RELATED: More on smoking)
“It is the year 2012,” Speedway president Joie Chitwood III said, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal. “I am not aware of any other sporting venue in Florida that allows smoking in their seats.”
Speedway spokesman Lenny Santiago explained to The Daily Caller that fan feedback was another reason for the ban.
“It was time for us to move in this direction and join the other major facilities and other venues in the state and across the country that are going smoke free,” Santiago said.
“We do realize that we have fans that smoke, so we are conscious of that and are offering areas where they can continue to do so in a way and in a place that is not intrusive or offensive to other fans,” he added.
The new rules will not have an impact on Sunday’s race — although attendees will be asked to voluntarily refrain from smoking in the grandstands. The first race that will see enforcement of the ban is the Coke Zero 400 on July 7.
Tobacco and NASCAR have long been intertwined. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. sponsored the Winston Cup for over 30 years and various tobacco brands sponsored cars up until the 2010 FDA ban on tobacco sponsorships in sports.
A number of racetracks around the country already have smoking bans.
The ban at Daytona does not extend beyond the grandstands.