California - State Assembly approves smoking ban at state parks and beaches..

March 23, 2010 - California lawmakers approved a groundbreaking smoking ban Monday, March 22nd that, if signed into law, will prohibit smoking at nearly all state beaches and parks.

Directly related news brief: California - vote tomorrow, nation's most far-reaching smoking ban in state parks..

The bill is believed to be the nation's most far-reaching smoking ban in state parks. It aims to cut down on litter, secondhand smoke and forest fires at California's 278 parks and 64 beaches by imposing a $100 fine on people who violate the ban, according to its author, Sen. Jenny Oropeza, D-Long Beach. Smoking at many parks and beaches in California is already prohibited through laws enacted by more than 100 cities and counties, Oropeza noted.

Last year, Maine adopted a smoke-free law for beaches and parks, but no other state has outlawed cigarettes in its entire park system as California is proposing to do, according to the group Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, which tracks such measures.
Four other states, Oropeza said - including New York and Hawaii - are weighing similar bans.

The state Assembly voted 42-27 in favor of the ban. Anti-smoking groups say the bill would make California the first state to ban smoking throughout its entire park system if it is signed into law. The legislation faces one more vote in the Senate before it can be sent to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has not indicated whether he will sign it. The Senate passed it previously but must agree to amendments made in the Assembly.

Cynthia Hallett, executive director of Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights in Berkeley, said the law would be useful even if it's not strictly enforced - but it does need to be publicized. Roy Stearns, a spokesman for the state parks system, said there is no extra money to post signs or for additional manpower. In fact, most of the state's parks are closed during either all of some of the weekdays to save state money on staffing them.

References: Ban on smoking at parks, beaches moves forward,Marisa Lagos, San Francisco Chronicle Sacramento Bureau, 3/23/2010; California lawmakers take step to ban smoking at state parks, beaches under landmark bill by SAMANTHA YOUNG , Associated Press,, 3/22/2010; Assembly approves smoking ban at state parks and beaches, by Patrick McGreevy, The Los Angeles Times, 3/22/2010.

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