Los Angeles Times: California wildfires fuel a new push to ban smoking at state parks and beaches

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Los Angeles Times


By Patrick McGreevy

After more than a decade of attempts to ban smoking at California beaches and parks, environmentalists have advanced new legislation to prevent lighting up in certain public places.

The proposals, approved Thursday by the Senate, now go to Gov. Jerry Brown, who vetoed three previous bills on the issue.

Supporters feel this year’s devastating wildfires have bolstered their argument and given their proposals new urgency.

Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) emphasized the fire-related need for the legislation during floor debate in the Assembly.

“The 2017 California wildfire season was the most destructive one on record, and the 2018 season is not off to a great start,” Levine said. “This bill is a common-sense approach to lower the risk of forest fires and will help curb pollution.”

Levine noted many of the wildfires that Cal Fire responds to are “started by carelessly discarded cigarettes.”

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Levine also introduced a bill, which is expected to be approved later Thursday. His measure would apply only to designated picnic areas at state parks and beaches. Narrowing the bill to where families congregate and eat makes sense, Levine said, noting that California banned smoking in restaurants long ago.

“Think of picnic areas as outdoor restaurants,” he said.

Levine’s bill that was vetoed last year proposed a fine of $50, while Glazer’s last effort would have fined offenders $100.