Assembly Fails to Pass State Parks and Beaches Smoking Ban
One of the most sweeping smoking bans in the country, which would ban smoking at state parks and beaches, fell five votes short of passage in the state Assembly March 18.
The measure, SB 4, would impose a $100 fine on those who smoke cigars, cigarettes or other tobacco products at California’s 279 state parks and beaches. Sen. Jenny Oropeza, a Long Beach Democrat, has carried legislation to ban smoking at beaches for several years, citing health concerns from second-hand smoke, clean-up costs from litter, ill effects on marine life eating tobacco products and the threat of wildfire.
The bill was five votes short of the 41 needed in the 80-member Assembly for passage. A second attempt to pass the bill was granted with a vote as early as March 22, Oropeza said. She cited absences in the lower house as the reason her bill failed passage. The Senate has already approved the bill.
If signed into law, California would be the first state to ban smoking throughout its park system. However, Oropeza’s law says parks that can’t afford to buy no-smoking signs would be exempt from the ban. Campsites are also exempt as are parking lots.
Previously, the Department of Parks and Recreation opposed her bill because of the cost of posting “no smoking” signs at all entrances to 300 miles of state beach and 1.3 million acres of state parkland.
The department already prohibits smoking in state park buildings, on trails, on certain guided walks, and during fire seasons.
Commonwealth Brands, a tobacco manufacturer, opposes the bill as excessive and an unneeded infringement on the rights of smokers.
More than 100 cities already impose smoking bans in parks and on beaches and piers, Oropeza said.
Among those localities with such bans are Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Malibu, Newport Beach, San Clemente, Santa Monica, Seal Beach and Solana Beach.
Oropeza previously carried legislation to ban smoking in vehicles in which a person younger than 18 was a passenger. Like her current measure, those caught doing so face a $100 fine. The law took effect in January 2008.
If passed by the Assembly, Oropeza’s bill returns to the Senate for a final vote before going to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger who has no public position on the bill.
The GOP governor did, however, sign Oropeza’s bill banning smoking in cars with minors and a previous bill that took effect in 2007 banning smoking in common-use areas such as covered parking lots, lobbies, lounges, elevators and restrooms.
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