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California Governor Vetoes Smoking Ban at Beaches and Parks

October 9, 2017
(Julia Sumpter for Leafly)
Beachcombers might be split over some of Governor Moonbeam’s recent moves. Late last week, California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a pair of bills that would’ve banned smoking and vaping on nearly 300 miles of state beaches and in 280 state parks.

“If people can’t smoke even on a deserted beach, where can they?” Brown asked in his veto message, calling the measures overbroad and noting that monetary penalties could’ve totaled hundreds of dollars after mandatory assessments.

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A violation that would’ve carried a $100 fine under one measure could have climbed to $485 after court assessments were factored in, the governor said. “There must be some limit to the coercive power of government,” he wrote.

Brown’s veto of the two bills may cheer cigarette smokers more than cannabis consumers, however. As Tom Angell at Marijuana Moment points out, public consumption isn’t permitted under the state’s cannabis laws.

It’s the second year running that Brown has snuffed out the Legislature’s proposals to ban smoking and vaping on the state lands. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a similar measure in 2010.

This session’s bills—Assembly Bill 725, by Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-Greenbrae), and Senate Bill 386, by Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda)—would have applied to both cigarette and cannabis consumption, as well as the use of vaporizers.

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Supporters said the bills were aimed at reducing health and environmental harms. “This bill would reduce the serious health hazards posed by smoking—to people and wildlife—in our state parks and beaches,” Glazer told the LA Times. “It would reduce fire hazards and litter and the costs for those now borne by the public.”

According to the Sacramento Bee, cigarette butts are the biggest source of litter collected during environmental cleanups, particularly along the coast. Discarded cigarette butts can also pose health threats to wildlife.

One of the measures, SB 386, was endorsed by numerous national and local interest groups, including the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, California Fire Chiefs Association, Save the Bay, Surfrider Foundation, March of Dimes, and San Francisco Baykeeper. The groups supported the legislation on the grounds it would reduce secondhand smoke exposure, decrease waste on public lands, and prevent the damage and costs of wildfires.

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Scott St. Blaze, a Los Angeles surfer who wrote SB 386, told the Mercury News he was frustrated by Brown’s opposition to the bills. Many of the state’s coastal cities have already passed local bans, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego, though enforcement is far from consistent.

“I don’t know what his deal is,” he said of the governor. “Jerry Brown is not stupid. He’s an intelligent man. I’m not quite sure why he did this. It was a good piece of legislation. It was good for the environment and it is going to save the taxpayers quite a bit of money.”

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Ben Adlin

Ben Adlin is a senior editor at Leafly who specializes in politics and the law. Follow him on Twitter: @badlin

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  • Vinny Gracchus

    Finally some common sense from Sacramento. It’s time to stop the persecution of smokers. Reject smoking bans.

  • Remoteobservation

    Also what kind of argument is this – The cleanup costs of butts, which is currently on the public. So is the cleanup of the meat industry. No one banning meat. Ban humans going the toilet too. Costs a fortune and creates environmental damage. Ban it all! Aren’t governments supposed to provide solutions to societal requirements. Dissolve the government that’s the biggest environmental risk and costs the most.

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  • Michaela Gillogly

    He stated why he didn’t pass it. He didn’t like the money grab by the State for the violation. Like for other liter, they have trash reciptables, have some for cigarettes. Also encourage the message of keeping the butt in the car. Maybe having car manufacturers keeping the ashtrays put. Vaping doesn’t pollute. Nobody is dropping their pen on the ground.

  • Rochelle Walela Black

    What is that pipe called? It is exactly what I have been looking for.

    • fapjacks

      Yo that’s exactly what I was wondering!

  • CLK1

    WHY don’t they do a Bill that ONLY Bans Cigarettes? Why do they have to add MJ and Vaping in it? IF you make a Common sense bill then you might get some backing, but every time you Group things together you will most likely be shot down… I don’t care either way, if people were more conscious of their cigarette smoking and stopped throwing butts all over the place you wouldn’t have this issue, vaping doesn’t hurt anyone, and MJ is a healing plant that does no harm, its the Cigs causing this issue, deal with that…

    • nixnoutz

      Throw your roaches away or stash them where Cannabis smokers can pick them up! Especially if there’s a variety. I smoke a ciggy once in a while, but smashing it in my fingers and carrying it out is not a problem. Obtaining good weed is a problem.

  • BenSamizdat

    They just need to reword the bill so that it bans smoking in the prescence of others. Drinking a beer doesn’t force that alcohol into the mouth of someone’s 12 year old daughter, but blowing a huge cloud of smoke out that the wind carries 15 feet over so that the kid breaths it in, that is not veto-able since it is an assault on their bodies. I have to say that I like Brown’s reasoning about the abandoned beaches, but how does he justify the parks that are not abandoned? Technically that is public consumption, and in answer to his question “where can they”? imbibe, how about AT HOME and then walk to the city park???

    • David Gutilla

      How much second hand smoke do you get standing outside three feet away from a smoker. I hate cigarettes too, but banning all of the great outdoors sounds like another liberal power grab telling everyone else how to live. JB is finally talking sense.

      • BenSamizdat

        When you are forcing a drug into the lungs of a child or someone who doesn’t want to imbibe those drugs, any amount is an assault on their body. Just use common sense. If you take your kids to a Grateful Dead show or a Hempfest, you can’t complain, But as one father told me at a Santana concert “I took my 12 year old daughter here because I wanted her to see a piece of history. You don’t have a right to force your drug into her lungs.” I had to admit, the guy was right. I have been to over 4000 concerts and festivals and have probably lit just as many jays at those shows, but I changed my ways. If you want to light up in the great outdoors, an lonely beach or the Redwoods where you don’t see anyone else is cool. But a crowded park where there are kids around – NOT COOL. And never light up next to a school, just use your common sense.

        • David Gutilla

          The “any amount” argument is specious. Your kids are exposed to lead, PCBs, pesticides and radiation , and a thousand other health hazards every day. It’s a matter of concentration. If you take one step upwind, or to the right or left, the spherical bubble surrounding the smoker expands with the cube of the distance from them. So, simply take a step or two in the near infinite space of the great outdoors and allow others the freedom to enjoy it as they would see fit.

          • Mo Jo

            I don’t believe our kids are exposed to a thousand health hazards every day, but I can see why you would percieve the world that way. Any any pathogens or chemicals they are exposed to are not that parents percieve as an invasion of their children’s bodies. If you can smell it, then it’s in there and legally it is an assault on their person, which is why cigarette smoking outdoors is now illegal in most of the world. City parks are not “infinite” spaces and they are often full of children. Unless there is a hempfest there on that day you can either toke up at home before you go to the park or you can find an isolated place to go enjoy mother nature where you are not offending anyone. If we want the legalization movement to work, we are going to have to make these kinds of logical compromises and concessions.

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