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


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

Comments () | Archives (23)

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I don't get it? why ban smoking in public parks and beaches when it is in the outdoors. Some of your big amusement parks like Disneyland and Magic Mountain has desigated smoking areas. Eve the Zoo and Sea World here in San Diego, CA have designated smoking areas. Only thing I can say is if you ban smoking the start banning alchohol since it kills more people than cigerettes do. So come on you guys in Sacremento get with the program and lift the ban. I am a nonsmoker and I have friends who smoke and I do not mind a bit. Smoking to them is a satisfation like chocolate is to many other people. For all those people who complain about smoking I say just shut up and just live with it. Smokers have the right to smoke.

I can't believe you folks who want to stop smoking in arks and Beach's OK the why don't you stop ridding in cars and ride only Bicycles or horse's that polutue far more than and cigaret yes I am a smoker but I am a very conciderate smoker I will not smoke in a bldg house and or car and I will usually stay far away enough from the entrance of any store / Merchant where it would bother the public now If you want to pay for diffrent types of Stop-Smoking clinics then by golly you have the right to say what you want but in the 50's 60's and 70's and 80's when promotion of smoking was ok or excepted and when I got this habit Again hey the fumes that are generated from even the best running car/truck is still 100 times worse than a cigartet why don't you folks that are strong on air polution concentrating your energy on the auto industry? ohhh I see because they are organized or you need your car?? I'll stop smoking when you stop driving and polluting my lungs with your fumes from car's

Unless there are any replies, this will be my last comment on the subject.
At the risk of shooting myself in the foot, there is an election on Tuesday, May 19th. Jack Weiss is running for City Attorney in a runoff election. As a Los Angeles Councilperson, Mr. Weiss authored the smoking ban on City Beaches, so if you are a concerned smoker, or if you are an appreciative non-smoker, you might want to consider voting this Tuesday.

Thank you.

First of all, I am in deeply greatful to the author for allowing me to post my comments. Thank you. :)

This is the current text of the bill SB 4 (Oropeza). Don't worry. This is from an official California government website.

There are three things that bother me about this bill. One, it begins with the traditional header, "THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:" You should know that this heading is set forth in the State Government Code Sec. 100 as follows, quote " 100. (a) The sovereignty of the state resides in the people thereof, and all writs and processes shall issue in their name.
(b) The style of all process shall be "The People of the State of California," and all prosecutions shall be conducted in their name and by their authority.", unquote.

Simply put, there is no such Government by The State of California which exists unto itself. The State and local governments exist by the authority of its Citizens bound by the Common Goals of Liberty, Equality, Safety, Privacy, and The Pursuit of Happiness. The Right to pursue and obtain Happiness is protected in our State Constitution Article 1 Section 1.
I recall absolutely no Proposition on this issue voted on by The People. If anything, I have opposed this ban on the last remaining beaches in the L.A. area which permit smoking. Ms. Oropeza never asked me about it. Did she ask you about it?

Secondly, the bill SB 4 states states that the ban on "State coastal beaches" does not include banning smoking on an adjacent parking lot". Think about that for a minute. The main argument in this article claims to be concerned about 'fire safety', yet not only does the bill NOT ban bonfires and other popular sources of fire risk, it ALLOWS smoking in adjacent parking areas, many of which are situated exactly next to hillsides of dry tundra, instead of allowing smoking on the beaches which consist of fire-safe sands and gravel, hence the current permission to enjoy bonfires and BBQs on the beach.

Third. The bill constitutes a State Mandate on a local government. Our State Constitution Article XIII (b) requires The State to reimburse the local government for any costs incurred by the local government when The State enforces a Mandate which constitutes a new program, and yet SB 4 states that no reimbursements to local governments enforcing the ban are necessary "because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution. ".

Now there are two more problems. The bill is to provide 'fire safety' while allowing smoking in parking lots next to dry tundra, while the bill 'is not a punishment against smokers', and yet in The State waiving its Constitutional Duty to reimburse local governments has declared smoking at the State Beach to be 'A Crime" or infraction. The State Does Not Have The Authority to Waive Necessary Reimbursements. They are also mandatory to local governments.
And of course, smoking is still a legal Right, as long as smokers do not interfere with non-smokers and behave to limit their habit to authorized areas, not to discriminate against smoking, but to provide for all citizens in the same manner as providing areas at the beach for firepits and BBQs.

A little history. Originally, the Special Taxes on cigarettes were applied to pay for public ashtrays and maintenance of these ashtrays in public places, parks and beaches while any surpluses from these special taxes was applied to help finance all parks and beaches. Thirty years ago Los Angeles City Council and The County Board of Supervisors removed the ashtrays from parks and beaches 'in order to discourage smoking'. This was the start of the era of the Moral Majority and the insistence that if the government condoned and provided for an activity such as smoking or designated clothing-optional beaches, then it constituted 'an endorsement' of the activity by Los Angeles officials. Never mind the Rights of the People. So, if you are wondering why the smoker's butts are in the sand, it is because we are being discouraged by paying excessive Special Taxes from using the ashtrays that are supposed to be provided for by those original Special Taxes that are no longer there. Why are we still paying those Special Taxes? Where are those original taxes going to? Are they still paying for parks and beaches sans ashtrays and personnel? I don't know.

A side note: Ever wonder what the pretty white crests of foam riding on the breaking waves along the shoreline are composed of? Have you cleaned your aquarium lately? How about Mercury, Lead, Sulfites, Phosphates, Sillicates, and sea life/bird droppings/wastes, and live microorganisms/bacteria. If you have birds in your area, the next time it rains after a long dry spell, check the white froth at the rain gutter's outlet from the roof. Doesn't it look the same as the sea froth to you? The last time I visited Santa Monica Beach, I smoked a cigarette. This was before the ban, and I was surrounded by sea gulls, pigeons and crows who showed no discretion in relieving themselves on the sands.

I don't think the beach is sanitary anyhow, but consider that Los Angeles already has 13 miles of no-smoking beaches and please consider allowing smoking where fires are permitted. It's only fair as smokers are likely paying for the services.

When I was young, the state of Florida had a law that women could not wear shorts! This just goes to show the absolute absurdity of many laws which are forced upon people. This law is an example of such absurdity. Absurd because it's nonsense that fires can start on beaches. It's absurd because there is no banning of bonfires mentioned. It's absurd because it bans a legal product. It's absurd because the state of CA is almost bankrupt and legislators should be trying to figure out how to save it rather than how to make things worse. The whole thing is as ridiculous as having a law stating that women cannot wear shorts.

If you want to suck poison into your lungs, build a beach bonfire.

Jenny Oropeza and her ilk tell you you should ban smoking outdoors because "There is no safe level of second hand tobacco smoke."

Smoke is smoke. Tobacco isn't magic. It is just another organic material. All organic combustion, like that from cigarettes, campfires, charcoal braziers, and residential fireplaces, generates over 4,000 chemicals*, including toxic compounds and carcinogens. California provides beach firepits and park fireplaces for outdoor cooking. The smoke from those outdoor fireplaces contains carbon monoxide, methane, formaldehyde, cyanide, acrolein, benzene, tolulene, arsenic, lead ... the whole scare mongering list you are given for tobacco smoke.

In addition, wood smoke from those fireplaces is chemically active in the body 40 times longer than tobacco smoke. The EPA estimates that the cancer risk from wood smoke is twelve times greater than that from an equal volume of secondhand tobacco smoke.

If there is no safe level of tobacco smoke, then there is likewise no safe level of smoke from your park fireplaces, because they both contain that array of toxic compounds and carcinogens.

Let the smokers smoke their tobacco in peace as long as your little girls don't keel over dead from roasting wieners at the beach firepits. You swallow a camel and strain at a gnat!

*A symposium recently tried to trace down the origin and a list of that "4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke". Result: nobody has ever assayed and enumerated the "4,000 chemicals". It would be a scientific impossibility. The notorious 4,000 chemicals is a myth promulgated by a propaganda mill.

State Senator Jenny Oropeza and every hostile antismoker supporting this measure is nothing but a talentless, incompetent liar. For her part, Senator Oropeza is 'a Cancer Survivor'. She wouldn't be caught dead at a beach risking Skin Cancer to begin with.

Secondly, I say she and everyone who supports this prohibition is a liar because they oppose smoking in the name of 'fire safety', and yet they state no objection to the smoke from bonfires or BBQs which also contain 1000 times the amounts of Carbon Monoxide and much higher levels of benzopyrene than even a pack of cigarettes, thought this argument is moot. Ms. Oropeza insists that 'this is not a punishment' against smokers but necessary to stop wildfires.

If there is an exemption which allows smoking in parks and beach areas which also permit bonfires and BBQs then I might believe her, but NOT at this pretentious rate of deception. Both The County and City of Los Angeles have banned smoking along the entire 13 mile stretch of local beaches. The State Beaches are the only remaining areas which still allow smoking. I PAY EXCESSIVE REIMBURSEMENTS TO THE MERCHANTS IN ORDER TO ACQUIRE A SMOKING PRODUCT WITH A TAX STAMP WHICH PERMITS ME THE USE OF THE PRODUCT.

Those of us who smoke have no representation in these assaults on our equal coexistent Rights and it is Time to Fight.

More nanny state government! This may (and I mean only may) be a good idea but where does it end! The government telling beach goers what they can wear on the beach and what is not allowed. What about smoke from BBQs? Isn't that polluting and gives the opportunity for unwanted fires!?!? Too many nanny laws and not enough real action by the 121 fine, outstanding elected officials in Sacramento who brought us these budget deficits. Six words for Tuesday. No. No. No. No. No. No.

This is long over-due. There's nothing like hiking to the top of a sand dune only to inhale second-hand smoke. I like clean fresh air : ) especially when exploring nature.

Great you can't smoke but you can carry a concealed gun. How long before some idiot shoots a smoker.

While I realise a lot of you here would applaud the murder, I just think only in America.

And when the hell did a cop last write a ticket for littering?

The article "40 Tons of Trash Found On N.J. Beaches" by Fox News, April 28, 2007, reported the tally of plastic trash picked up on New Jersey beaches in 2006 by Clean Ocean Action.

Cigarette butts and cigar tips accounted for only 16 percent of the total items. Most of the remaining 84 percent of the items were food related plastic trash.

Plastic caps and lids (32,328)
Food wrappers or bags (27,147)
Cigarette butts (22,838)
Beverage bottles (15,373)
Miscellaneous pieces of plastic (14,479)
Straws or coffee stirrers (14,326)
Plastic foam pieces (13,286)
Shopping bags (6,349)
Eating utensils (5,902)
Six-pack rings (5,673)
Buckets or other large containers (5,330)
Cigar tips (4,245)

About time! If you want to suck poison into your lungs, do it at home where I don't have to smell and be injured by it. Second hand smoke kills.

Smoking is bad for everyone. Cigarettes should be illegal. People who smoke are typically inconsiderate of others and the environment. I think the ban is great! If they must smoke, let them do it at home. Weed on the otherhand is not offensive. Smokers leave their butts everywhere. Tokers mind their own business and don't leave any evidence of their enjoyment behind. Legalize weed and outlaw tobacco!

They should also ban dogs from beaches and parks.

I am sorry for responsible dog owners, but the irresponsible ones cause great disappointment when you are trying to enjoy a nice day in the beach with your toddler.

In theory, a good idea. In practice, another law they won't bother enforcing. Ever see them write a ticket for an off leash dog at a park or the beach?

As a non-smoker I can say that there is nothing worse than sitting on the beach on a nice day and then all the sudden you have these harsh fumes directed in to your nostrils.

As a conservative I believe in minimal government intervention and freedom to live how you want for the most part. While smoking is disgusting in my opinion it seems like there will never be an end to the limits of how far people are willing to go to restrict smokers from doing their thing.

jsidney's post was interesting. I guess for me it's not so much the volume in size or weight but, the eye sore that is created when you constantly see cig butts everywhere. As a former state park lifeguard I can atest to that. Most people who smoke just flick their cigarette wherever they want.

This bill will work about as good as the cell phone bill.

Thank you! Smokers ruin it for everyone, so this law is overdue! Ocean breezes and the fresh salt air are to enjoy, not choke on.

This is great news!

As for the '38%', 38% is not the percentage of the weight of the item, it is the percentage of the number of items found. 38% of all trash items picked up is cigarette butts; totally gross and disgusting; cigarette smokers are eco-terrorists with their litter, and DRUG ADDICTS! Not only are you insensitive to the clean air of the majority non-smoking public, but your trash is so foul that even you refuse to contain it and dispose of it properly and just throw it on the ground with no disregard to nature - smoking = eco-terrorism. Force the cigarette manufacturers to only make non-filter cigarettes for the health of the environment or mandate a 5-cent per butt recycling fee added, like bottles. Actually, filtered cigarettes should be outlawed as 'defective merchandise' in that their waste footprint is an environmental nightmare; only non-filtered cigarettes should be allowed to be sold for the health of the environment (obviously not people's health, because big business and the addicts would never want that.

The State wants the tax money from tobacco but rescind the smokers and now they plan to legalize Marijuana ... ???????

According to reporter Margot Roosevelt, the Ocean Conservancy estimates that cigarette butts account for as much as 38% of debris on U.S. beaches.

A cigarette butt weighs 0.00767 ounces.

In 2006, after the July 4 holiday, San Diego beach cleanup volunteers collected 8,000 pounds of trash and 45,000 cigarette butts. The 45,000 cigarette butts weighed 22 pounds, about the weight of a cocker spaniel. 22 pounds of 8,000 pounds is three tenths of one percent, not 38 percent.

In 2007, after the July 4 holiday (and after the San Diego beach smoking ban was enacted), San Diego beach cleanup volunteers collected 9,000 pounds of trash and 20,000 cigarette butts. The 20,000 cigarette butts weighed 10 pounds, about the weight of a house cat. 10 pounds of 9,000 pounds is one tenth of one percent, not 38 percent.

Sounds like Reporter Roosevelt's source is just a little bit untruthful.

And why Tim McVeigh was a hero. His intent was ideal.


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