California state legislators passed a pair of bills this week that will once again seek to bring an end to smoking in the state’s parks and on state-owned beaches, as they have passed a pair of bills this week and sent them to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature.
Both S.B. 835 and S.B. 836, which were sponsored by Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Concord, were approved by the state Assembly on Wednesday and the state Senate on Thursday. The former addresses smoking in state parks, while the latter covers state beaches, and both include the same provision: that smoking in a state park or on a state beach is not allowed, and a person can be cited with an infraction punishable by a fine of up to $25 if they dispose of the used cigar or cigarette waste in a unit of the state park system, other than in an appropriate waste receptacle. Assuming a person does put their spent cigar, cigarette or other item into a proper waste receptacle, it would appear there would be no fine, even though smoking remains prohibited.
In essence, both bills seek to bring an end to the improper disposal of lit tobacco products, a push that has gained traction due to recent wildfires in the state and the growing concern that there will be more in future years.
Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, told VCStar.com that he saw the bills as common sense solutions to lowering the risk of forest fires while also helping to curb pollution. The article cited a report by Cal Fire that said from 2013 to 2017, the agency has responded to an average of 47 forest fires per year that were started by smoking.
The bills now head to the governor for his signature, something he has been reluctant to grant in recent years. Just last year, the governor vetoed a pair of bills that sought to ban smoking on state beaches and throughout the state’s parks system. In his veto letter, Brown said he believed it to be too broad and far-reaching of a prohibition, adding that “there must be some limit to the coercive power of government.”
Lawmakers are hopeful that with reduced fines, the ability to create designated smoking areas and a more pressing need to prevent the outbreak of fires such as the Carr Fire as well as 13 other active wildfires currently burning within the state, the bills will get Brown’s signature. Brown has 12 days to either sign the bill, veto it, or not act on it, in which case it will go into law without his signature.