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Written by Puff Staff

Monday, 26 April 2010

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California to Ban Smoking in All State Parks?

california

The possibility exists that smoking could be banned in all of the large state's 278 beaches and public parks. California's state Senate voted in favor of the proposed bill by a 21-15 margin on April 15th. The proposed ban now awaits the signature of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and if passed, it would mark California as the first state to ban smoking completely throughout its entire parks system.

The fact that Governor Schwarzenegger himself is a cigar fan is not the only possible hurdle in getting the proposed bill signed. While that adds an interesting little personal twist to the whole saga, the real obstacles are financial ones. California is already in financial trouble, and to enforce such a law would require the state to post non-smoking signs in all of its 278 parks. That seems a bit ironic, considering the state has already taken part in cutting its parks budget to aid other, more pressing issues. Without actual signs in place, it would be more difficult to enforce actual fines on violators of the proposed law, although officers that patrol the parks could always issue warnings themselves. Those officers cost money, however, and to take precious time out of their day just to warn smokers may not be of the utmost priority.

Proponents believe that enforcement of a non-smoking law should be a priority, though. Besides the concern of the harmful effects of second-hand smoke, allowing smoking in public parks creates problems with litter as well as the potential for starting wildfires. The litter and wildfire concerns seem legitimate, but there are already similar bans across 100 cities within California. In one of those cities, San Diego, a nonprofit group recently collected over 50,000 cigarette butts throughout the city's parks, showing that the ban has actually been futile.

Using San Diego as an example, and considering the economic troubles of the state, one would have to wonder if the passing of such a law would even have its desired effect, as the resources are lacking to properly enforce it. Regardless, if Governor Schwarzenegger does sign off on the ban, there will be many smokers in California who will feel that their rights are being infringed upon.






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