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California Legislature

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoes bans on smoking at beaches and parks, calling them too coercive

 (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday vetoed two bills that would have banned smoking at California parks and beaches, calling them too coercive and saying potential fines are too high.

The measures, which also would have banned smoking marijuana and the use of electronic cigarettes, were proposed by legislators to protect public health from second-hand smoking and to prevent wildfires and reduce litter.

Brown, who vetoed a similar bill last year, said the $100 fine proposed could reach $485 when court assessments are added, an amount he called excessive.

“If people can’t smoke even on a deserted beach, where can they?” Brown asked in his veto message. “There must be some limit to the coercive power of government."

The Legislature had approved separate but similar bills by Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) and Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) that would have applied the ban to 300 miles of state beaches and areas of 280 state parks that have not been designated by park officials for smoking.

“This bill would reduce the serious health hazards posed by smoking — to people and wildlife — in our state parks and beaches,” Glazer said. "It would reduce fire hazards and litter and the costs for those now borne by the public.”

Second-hand smoke is a health risk, and discarded cigarette butts can poison wildlife if eaten, the lawmaker said.

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