Smok­ing ban on state-run beaches? Not this year

The Mercury News - - Local News - By Pauline Bar­tolone Cal­i­for­nia Health­line

For years, state law­mak­ers have been try­ing to elim­i­nate sec­ond­hand smoke and cig­a­rette butts from Cal­i­for­nia’s 280 il­lus­tri­ous beaches and nat­u­ral parks.

Once again, they have come up short.

Late Fri­day, Gov. Jerry Brown ve­toed two bills that would have banned or dras­ti­cally cur­tailed smok­ing and va­p­ing in parks and beaches run by the state.

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

Law­mak­ers who sup­ported the leg­is­la­tion said ban­ning smok­ing at state parks would pro­tect peo­ple from health haz­ards as­so­ci­ated with sec­ond­hand smoke and pre­vent the risks that cig­a­rette butts pose to marine life.

The au­thor of one of the bills, Assem­bly­man Marc Levine, D-Marin County, said he was dis­ap­pointed by Brown’s de­ci­sion. Try­ing to pro­tect peo­ple and wildlife from “poi­sonous” cig­a­rette butts is hardly co­er­cive, he said in an emailed state­ment.

“The com­mon per­son knows th­ese dan­gers too well, and flip­pantly dis­miss­ing them isn’t cool. Even for a gover­nor who is fea­tured in ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine,” Levine said, re­fer­ring to an in­ter­view with Brown that ran last week in the pop­u­lar cul­ture bi­weekly.

Levine’s bill would have es­tab­lished des­ig­nated smok­ing ar­eas at some parks and beaches and im­posed a fine of $50 on any­one caught light­ing up out­side of those zones.

An­other bill, by Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, would have banned smok­ing al­to­gether on state beaches and es­tab­lished smok­ing zones at state parks. The fine for any vi­o­la­tion would have been $100.

Brown and for­mer gover­nor Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger both have ve­toed sim­i­lar mea­sures in the past. Last year, Brown said a smok­ing ban passed by the leg­is­la­ture was too “broad” and “puni­tive.”

Beach­go­ers in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, speak­ing to a re­porter be­fore Brown is­sued Fri­day’s ve­toes, gave mixed re­views to the idea.

“I’m all for ban­ning smok­ing on the beach. I think it’s re­pul­sive,” said MaryAnn Mor­ton, a res­i­dent of Hunt­ing­ton Beach who reg­u­larly vis­its the shore­line, in­clud­ing a stretch of state-owned beach where smok­ing is per­mit­ted.

Some ar­eas — in­clud­ing Los An­ge­les, Long Beach, Santa Cruz, San Diego and most com­mu­ni­ties along the South Bay coast — al­ready have or­di­nances ban­ning smok­ing in parks and pub­lic beaches. The pro­posal would out­law smok­ing along Or­ange County’s five state beaches — Bolsa Chica, Hunt­ing­ton, Crys­tal Cove, Dana Point and San Cle­mente — and comes nearly a decade af­ter cities along Or­ange County’s coast tack­led the is­sue and ex­tin­guished smok­ing on the sand.

The ban also would in­clude Los An­ge­les state beaches such as Leo Car­rillo State Park north of Mal­ibu and other state parks along the coast that in­clude camp­ing ar­eas. Most Los An­ge­les beaches are run by the county, which al­ready has an or­di­nance in place re­strict­ing smok­ing in ar­eas.

Or­ange County has not passed a smok­ing ban on county beaches, so ar­eas such as Salt Creek or Capis­trano Beach in Dana Point, or Sun­set Beach in Hunt­ing­ton Beach, still al­low smok­ing.

In 2004, Hunt­ing­ton Beach was one of the first cities to ban smok­ing on the sand at city beaches. Hunt­ing­ton Beach re­cently ex­tended its ban into beach park­ing lots. The past decade has seen a ma­jor push against smok­ing in pub­lic, in­clud­ing bans at city parks, most col­lege cam­puses and the Or­ange County Fair. La­guna Beach re­cently be­came the first in the county to ban smok­ing in the en­tire city.

Last year, San Cle­mente in­tro­duced an or­di­nance that out­laws smok­ing at beach en­trances.

Some state parks, like San Onofre State Park, have al­ready ad­dressed fire con­cerns.

While smok­ing is le­gal on state beaches, it is banned on hik­ing trails lo­cated in the up­land sec­tion of San Onofre State Beach ex­tend­ing well in­land from I-5.

Some beach­go­ers said they didn’t think they would be harmed by sec­ond­hand smoke.

“Some­times they ban things with­out a sole rea­son. … It feels more for votes,” said Jesse Miller, who ad­mit­ted he and his friends had smoked on the city-man­aged stretch of Hunt­ing­ton Beach, where it is pro­hib­ited.

Glen Stainer, a cigarsmok­ing tourist from Penn­syl­va­nia, said he could get on board with a smok­ing ban that al­lowed for des­ig­nated ar­eas. But in gen­eral, peo­ple should not smoke when oth­ers are nearby, he said.

“I can see two sides” to the is­sue, Stainer said. “It’s not fair to have smoke be­ing blown on lit­tle chil­dren that aren’t ask­ing for that. And yet, a beach should be a pub­lic place where I can do what I want.”

South­ern Cal­i­for­nia News Group staff writer Lay­lan Con­nelly con­trib­uted to this re­port. Cal­i­for­nia Health­line is a ser­vice of the Cal­i­for­nia Health Care Foun­da­tion pro­duced by Kaiser Health News, an ed­i­to­ri­ally in­de­pen­dent pro­gram of the Kaiser Fam­ily Foun­da­tion.


State-owned beaches and parks, such as Will Rogers State Beach on Santa Mon­ica Bay, still per­mit smok­ing and va­p­ing, un­like many mu­nic­i­pal beaches in Cal­i­for­nia.

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