Smoking to be Banned at State Parks and Beaches in California

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A new bill bans people from smoking in the parks and on the beaches of California. Credit: Unsplash

A new bill signed last week will prohibit people from smoking in Californian state parks and beaches report the LA Times. From January 1st, 2020, anybody caught using cigarettes, cigars, pipes or electronic cigarettes will face a fine of up to $25.

The bill signed by the governor and written by state Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda), cites the public risk of exposure to chemicals in tobacco smoke. 

“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 the tainted trash.”

The bill is the result of a decade long attempt to push through the ban. The bill had been vetoed seven times previously by Govs. Jerry Brown and Arnold Schwarzenegger, claiming it ‘went too far in restricting public behavior’ and ‘excessive punishment’ of higher fines that were previously suggested. But recent deadly wildfires over the last couple of years increased the urgency of the proposal.

“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 for fines for littering of smoking materials. The bill will allow smoking in parking lots and on paved roads.

“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.”

Advocates of the new law claim that tobacco-related illnesses are responsible for 40,000 deaths annually in California costing the state $28 billion annually in healthcare and lost productivity. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said smoking caused about 44 wildfires annually in the last five years.

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