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


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

People caught using cigarettes, cigars, pipes or electronic cigarettes will be subject to a fine of up to $ 25 under a bill signed by the Governor and drafted by the Senator 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 acted. “Cigarettes are one of the biggest polluters on our beaches. It harms people through secondhand smoke and kills fish, which are affected by contaminated waste. “

A wave of deadly wildfires over the past two years has added urgency to the proposal which had been vetoed by governments. 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 there too,” Glazer said.

The measure applies to 300 miles of state beaches and areas of 280 state parks, and provides 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 have vetoed seven similar bills sent to them over the past decade, some with higher fines that they said involved excessive penalties.

Newsom vetoed a second bill from MP Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) on Friday 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 campaigned for a ban on smoking 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 wording of these bills will only serve to create a totally unenforceable law,” he said. “A law that would be a total waste of our state ranger’s time and a total waste of our California taxpayer’s money.”

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

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

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