Ban on Smoking in State Parks and Beaches Sent to Governor If Signed, California Would Be the First State To Impose One
On a largely party-line vote, the California state Senate on April 15 sent Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger one of the most sweeping smoking bans in the country, outlawing smoking at state parks and beaches.
The measure, SB 4, by Sen. Jenny Oropeza, a Long Beach Democrat, would impose a $100 fine on those who smoke cigars, cigarettes or other tobacco products at California’s 279 state parks and beaches.
If the GOP governor signs the measure, California would be the first state in the country to impose such a ban.
“We won’t have a position until we review the final version,” said Aaron McLear, Schwarzenegger’s press secretary.
In the past, the GOP governor has signed other smoking ban legislation by Oropeza including a prohibition on smoking in cars with persons 18 years of age or younger 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.
“I’m grateful lawmakers of both parties support this effort to rid our beaches of one of the largest sources of pollution and stop fires in state parks caused by carelessly tossed cigarette butts,” Oropeza said in a statement after the bill squeaked out of the 40-member Senate on a bare majority vote of 21 to 13.
Sen. Abel Maldonado of Santa Maria was the only Republican to vote for the measure. Sen. Lou Correa, a Santa Ana Democrat, voted “no.” Sen. Curran Price, an Inglewood Democrat was present but didn’t vote.
Oropeza 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.
Oropeza’s bill 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.
“Clarifying language that enforcement be done with existing resources” was added in the Assembly, Oropeza told her Senate colleagues.
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, opposed 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 the 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.
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