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California Legislature

Smoking pot or tobacco at California beaches could soon be illegal under bills headed to Gov. Brown

Hundreds of people seek relief from the hot weather recently in Santa Monica. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Hundreds of people seek relief from the hot weather recently in Santa Monica. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

California parks and beaches would be off-limits to those smoking tobacco or marijuana, or using electronic cigarettes, under legislation sent to Gov. Jerry Brown by state lawmakers Wednesday.

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

“Californians and the millions of tourists that travel here should be able to visit parks and beaches without stepping around cigarette butts or inhaling secondhand smoke," Levine said.

Secondhand smoke is a health risk, and discarded cigarette butts contain chemicals that can harm animals that eat them, the lawmakers said. Some health groups support the measures, although the American Cancer Society dropped its support over an amendment.

“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.”

A similar bill was vetoed last year by Brown, who said a complete prohibition was too broad.

“A more measured — and less punitive — approach might be warranted," Brown wrote.

In response, Glazer reduced the fine proposed for violating the ban from $250 to $100, while Levine's bill would put the penalty at $50.

The ban would not be enforced at parks where signs notifying the public aren't posted, and parks officials would have power to designate some areas of parks for smoking.

Current law already prohibits smoking within 25 feet of a playground, as well as in public buildings.

The bills exempt use of cigarettes or smoking devices as props in film or television production, and use of tobacco for ceremonial purposes by a federally recognized Native American tribe.

The bills would cost up to $1.1 million for signage, state officials estimate.

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UPDATES:

4:37 p.m.: This article was updated to reflect passage of Glazer's bill.

This article was originally published at 4:25 p.m.

11:45 am on 9/15: This article was updated to reflect that the American Cancer Society dropped support for the bill after it was amended.

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