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No more smoking at California's state parks and beaches?

May 14, 2009 |  7:30 pm

Beach

California's Senate today passed a bill to ban smoking at state parks and beaches. It would establish a fine of up to $100 for infractions.

Senate Bill 4 now moves to the Assembly. A similar bill failed to become law in 2006.

"Our effort is not one of punishment," said Sen. Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach), who said the ban is needed to prevent wildfires and harm to marine mammals.

According to the California Department of Forestry, smoking ignites an average of 100 forest fires and destroys 3,400 acres in the state every year. Cigarettes caused the 1999 Oakland Hills fire, which destroyed 3,354 homes and 456 apartment buildings.

The Ocean Conservancy estimates that cigarette butts, which contain 165 chemicals, and other smoking-related items account for as much as 38% of debris on U.S. beaches.

More than 100 local governments in California have imposed smoking bans in parks and beaches. This week, Maine enacted a law to ban smoking at its beaches and parks.

-- Margot Roosevelt

Photo: Topanga State Beach in Malibu. Credit: Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times

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