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Lawmakers pass smoking ban at beaches, parks

March 22, 2010 |  6:05 pm

Tired of finding cigarette butts where animals forage and kids play, state lawmakers voted Monday to outlaw smoking at 278 state parks and beaches in one of the nation's most far-reaching regulations of tobacco use.

The measure would allow a fine of up to $100 for those caught smoking at a state beach or in a designated section of a state park. Smoking would still be allowed in many parking lots and campgrounds.

"This is a great vote for the environment, for fire protection and a darn good vote for those of us who don’t like second-hand smoke," said Sen. Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach), who authored the measure, SB 4.

The proposal squeaked by with two votes to spare Monday and now returns to the Senate, which approved it previously and is expected to concur in minor amendments.

Republicans opposed the ban, saying it was unwarranted meddling in legal behavior.

 "It was a nanny-state bill then, and it is a nanny-state bill now," said Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries (R-Lake Elsinore).

The Democratic majority argued that it was justified because of the health risks of second-hand smoke and the pollution caused by thousands of butts littering beaches and picnic areas.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has not said publicly whether he would sign the measure.
--Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento