Schwarzenegger vetoes beach smoking ban
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday vetoed a measure that would have banned smoking in state parks and beaches, calling it Schwarzenegger smoking“an improper intrusion of government into people’s lives.’’
Schwarzenegger, whose own cigar-smoking habit led him to build a smoking tent next to the state Capitol building, said the most far-reaching regulations of tobacco in the nation went too far and that rules should be left up to local cities and counties.
“There is something inherently uncomfortable about the idea of the state encroaching in such a broad manner on the people of California,’’ Schwarzenegger wrote in his veto message, adding “This bill crosses an important threshold between state power and command and local decision-making.”
The measure by Sen. Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach) would have allowed a $100 fine to be levied against those cited for smoking in designated areas at 278 state beaches and parks but would have allowed people to light up in parking lots and campgrounds.
“I´m sorry the governor did not agree with this widely supported effort to increase public awareness about the environmental threats carelessly tossed cigarettes are doing to our marine life and to the great outdoors,” the sponsor of the bill, Sen. Jenny Oropeza, D-Long Beach, said afterward. “In addition to the clear environmental, fire safety and health reasons sought to be addressed under SB 4, the governor´s veto is in stark contrast to what is already being done at more than 100 local cities and counties statewide.”
Senate Bill 4 called for a $100 fine on those cited for smoking at state beaches and parks.
The Legislature had approved SB 4, the No Smoking at State Parks and Beaches Act, after nearly four years of intensive legislative efforts.
More than 50 groups and organizations supported Oropeza´s bill, including the cities of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Manhattan Beach and Torrance, as well as state firefighters, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups.
SB 4 also was endorsed by scores of newspaper editorial boards statewide, including The Los Angeles Times, the Long Beach Press-Telegram, the Torrance Daily Breeze, the Riverside Press-Enterprise and the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat.
Oropeza cited several additional reasons why her bill is needed:
The US Environmental Protection Agency has determined cigarette butts to be the most frequently found marine debris item in the United States.
Smoking-related debris poses a persistent and serious threat to marine life and beachgoers along California´s 1,100 miles of coastline.
Ingestion of cigarette waste by marine animals interferes with their ability to eat and digest food.
According to the Ocean Conservancy, in 2003 smoking-related items (in the form of cigarette filters, cigar tips, tobacco packaging, and cigarette lighters) accounted for 38 percent of all debris items found on beaches in the United States.
Cigarette butts are not biodegradable and can harm the ecosystem as they contain more than 165 chemicals.
According to the California Department of Forestry (over a five-year average), smoking has been found to annually cause more than 100 California forest fires and destroy more than 3,400 acres.
Smoking has caused four of the 25 worst wildfires in California, from 1929-1999, including the 1999 Jones wildfire, which destroyed 964 structures and the 1999 Oakland Hills fire, the largest dollar fire loss in United States history. The $1.5 billion blaze destroyed 3,354 homes, 456 apartment buildings and 2,000 vehicles.
Banning smoking at beaches has become a popular cause for California´s coastal communities. More than 100 local governments statewide have already imposed smoking bans, including bans in local parks, beaches and piers in Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Malibu, Newport Beach, Redondo Beach, San Clemente, Santa Monica, Seal Beach and Solana Beach.
Source: Tobacco Facts