A smoking ban in California parks or beaches under new state law

Governor Gavin Newsom did on Friday what two of his predecessors refused to do: he banned smoking and vaping in most California state parks and beaches.

People caught using cigarettes, cigars, pipes or e-cigarettes will be fined up to $25 under a bill signed by the governor and drafted by the senator. of State Steve Glazer (D-Orinda), who cited the public risk of exposure to chemicals in tobacco smoke. The law comes into force on January 1.

“This bill will provide a cleaner, safer and healthier environment for people, fish and wildlife,” Glazer said Friday after the governor took action. “Cigarettes are one of the biggest polluters of our beaches. It harms people through second-hand smoke and kills fish, which are affected by contaminated waste. »

A series of deadly wildfires over the past two years has added urgency to the proposal that governors had vetoed. Jerry Brown and Arnold Schwarzenegger seven times in a decade of effort.

“Many forest fires have been caused by discarded cigarettes, and this bill can help with that as well,” Glazer said.

The measure applies to 300 miles of state beaches and areas of 280 state parks, and includes fines for littering smoking materials.

The bill was amended to allow smoking in parking lots and on paved roads. State park officials also have the discretion to designate other areas for smoking.

Brown vetoed similar legislation in 2017 because it went too far in restricting public behavior, he said.

“If people can’t smoke even on a deserted beach, where can they?” Brown asked in his veto message. “There must be some limit to the coercive power of government.”

Brown and Schwarzenegger vetoed seven similar bills sent to them over the past decade, including some with higher fines they said carried excessive penalties.

Newsom on Friday vetoed a second bill by Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) that was identical to Glazer’s Senate Bill 8, saying only one piece of legislation was needed.

Scott St. Blaze, a surfer and activist who has lobbied for a smoking ban in parks for years, said the proposed fine was too small to be a deterrent. He also opposed exemptions that would allow smoking in parking lots and other places.

“The current language of these bills will only serve to create a totally unenforceable law,” he said. “A law that would be a complete waste of our rangers’ time and a complete waste of our California taxpayers’ money.”

Glazer defended his bill, citing figures from the American Lung Assn. that tobacco-related diseases cause 40,000 deaths a year in California. Treating people with such illnesses costs the state some $28 billion a year in health care and lost productivity, Glazer said.

Proponents of the bill have also raised the danger of forest fires caused by discarded cigarettes. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said smoking has caused about 44 wildfires a year for the past five years.

Levine said toxic chemicals in cigarette butts can seep into groundwater and poison animals who mistake the litter for food. Glazer also cited the effect of smoking waste on the environment.

“Containing over 69 toxic chemicals, cigarette butts, although small in size, have a huge negative impact on the environment and ecosystem in California,” Glazer said.

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