Sacramento, CA – Smoking would be banned at California’s state beaches, estuaries and bays under a bill that advanced out of an Assembly committee Tuesday.
The bill, SB 386, by Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, would also ban smoking at public parks, leaving it to the discretion of state parks directors whether smoking would be allowed in designated locations in their parks.
The smoking ban won approval of the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee on a bipartisan 10-4 vote. It was approved by the full Senate last month. It now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
“The harmful effects of smoking on our health are well known, but smoking at our state parks and beaches poses other hazards as well,” Glazer said. “Smoldering cigarette butts have caused major wildfires. They are a major polluter on our beaches and oceans. Lastly, cigarette butts are ingested by fish and wild animals, often a death sentence for wildlife.”
The ban applies to cigarettes, cigars, marijuana or electronic and vapor cigarettes, and is accompanied by a fine of up to $250.
Scott St. Blaze, an activist with Surfrider Foundation USA, a group dedicated to maintaining clean beaches, said: “If even one wildfire can be prevented each year, why would you not seize the opportunity? SB 386, is good for public health, good for the environment, and good for the average Californian. So really it’s no mystery as to why this legislation is steadily marching onward to Governor Brown’s desk.”
Discarded cigarette butts are the number one waste item found on beaches. According to a study by the California Ocean Protection Council, about 40% of debris collected at the California Coastal Cleanup day in 2010 was from smoking-related activities.
Smoking has caused four of the 25 worst wildfires in California, from 1929-1999, including the 1999 Oakland Hills fire and the 2015 Lake County wildfire. Each estimated to have caused around $1.5 billion dollars in damage.
Research conducted by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated that cigarette debris is responsible for killing at least one million sea birds and 100,000 mammals annually.