(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Legislation by Assemblymember Marc Levine (D- Marin County) to ban smoking and vaping at California state parks and beaches received final approval today by the California State Legislature.
California’s diverse environment and ecosystems sets it apart from many other states. Park visitors come from around the world to enjoy California’s natural resources and protected land. Unfortunately, it is common to find cigarette butts discarded on beaches or around popular areas in state parks. In fact, cigarettes are the most common form of litter and are improperly disposed of 65 percent of the time.
Cigarettes contain thousands of chemicals, approximately fifty of which are known carcinogens. Not only do they leech these substances into the ground or water, but animals may confuse them with food, poisoning or choking them.
“AB 1718 is an important measure that will limit smoking in state parks and beaches and will in-turn reduce the harmful cigarettes butt litter in these special places,” said Rachel Norton, Executive Director of the California State Parks Foundation. “Smoking in parks has adverse impacts on the environment. Containing more than 150 toxic chemicals, cigarette butts, though small in size, have a huge negative impact on the environment and ecosystem in California. Cigarette butts also lead to litter on beaches.”
In addition to the public health and environmental damage caused by tobacco products, discarded cigarette butts accounted for 37.7 percent, or 6.9 million cigarette butts, of all litter collected on annual Coastal Cleanup Day from 1989-2014. Cigarettes are also a primary cause of wildfires, annually causing nearly $7 billion in damage, and accounting for 30 percent of fire deaths in the United States.
“Smoking is a danger to the health of California’s people, land and water,” said Assemblymember Levine. “Just as California banned smoking at indoor venues decades ago, it is time that visitors enjoying our state beaches and state parks be protected from the harm caused by smoking. We have waited long enough to protect California’s public health and natural environment. The time to act is now.”
AB 1718 now heads to Governor Gavin Newsom for final consideration.