Public parks and state beaches would be added to the list of no-smoking zones in California under a bill that cleared another legislative hurdle this week.
The proposed restrictions — which would apply to cigarettes, cigars, marijuana and e-cigarettes — will prevent wildfires, curb pollution and protect animals that mistake life-threatening cigarette butts for food, supporters say.
“Smoldering cigarette butts have caused major wildfires,” Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, said in a statement. “They are a major polluter on our beaches and oceans.”
Senate Bill 386 was passed by the Senate late last month. And on Tuesday, it cleared the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee on a 10-4, mostly party-line vote. Republican Steven Choi of Irvine broke ranks with his party by voting in favor of the ban. Assemblyman Rudy Salas, a Democrat from a swing district in Bakersfield, voted against it.
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The measure — along with a similar bill from Democratic Assemblyman Marc Levine of Marin County — is just the latest attempt by lawmakers to bring an end to smoking and smoking-related trash in public parks and on beaches. An almost identical bill passed the Legislature last year, only to be vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown, who called it too broad and punitive. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger nixed another such attempt in 2010.
Some areas — such as San Francisco and San Mateo counties and cities including Santa Cruz, San Diego and Los Angeles — already have ordinances banning smoking in parks and public beaches. In San Luis Obispo County, Paso Robles banned tobacco and marijuana smoking in public places in March. Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Morro Bay and Pismo Beach also have banned smoking from public parks, beaches, open space, sports facilities, skate parks, biking trails and dog parks. San Luis Obispo’s public smoking ban went into effect in 2010.
Glazer’s bill would prohibit smoking at all state beaches, estuaries and bays, slapping violators with fines of up to $250.
The proposed ban would also cover public parks, but was amended to include some wiggle room, allowing local parks directors to establish smoking zones.
Because the no-smoking signage would cost the state roughly $1 million, the bill must be approved by the Assembly appropriations committee before advancing to the Assembly floor. The proposal has no formal opposition and is backed by Save the Bay, the California State Lands Commission, the California Statewide Firefighters Association and the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association.
The American Lung Association in California withdrew its support this week — taking a neutral position — after the amendments giving discretion to parks directors.