Written by Puff Staff

Friday, 14 May 2010

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Proposed California Ban on Smoking in Parks Rejected


In last month's edition of Smoking News for May Part 2, we discussed a proposal in California that would ban smoking in all 278 of the state's beaches and public parks. The proposed ban could have been a monumental decision for the state, as it would have marked the first time a statewide ban was placed on smoking throughout public parks. Despite the state Senate's approval, it required Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's signature to become official. On May 3, however, Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed the proposed bill, ruling that it should be a local matter and not a state one.

The issue of the state overruling local authorities is likely not the only reason the bill was vetoed. California already stands amidst a financial crisis, and had previously made budget cuts with regards to state parks. Such a ban would call for much more money to be allocated to state parks, as they would have needed to place warning signs on the premises. To further enforce the ban and the $100 fines to violators, more employees would be needed as well, and there simply is no budgetary give in this regard.

Proponents of the ban are obviously disappointed. Many felt that the statewide ban was necessary to help fight the potential of wildfires. Tobacco debris was also seen as a huge cause of marine pollution, particularly when it came to cigarette butts. Had the bill passed, California would have been just the second state to ban smoking at all of its state's beaches. Maine is the only state to currently have such a law in place.

To counter the marine pollution argument, Schwarzenegger said that simply banning smoking throughout California's beaches would not eliminate the problem, as it the pollution could still filter into Californian waters from other states. The governor did say localities within the state still had the power to enforce their own laws regarding the issue, though, on a case-to-case basis.

As mentioned last month, if you want an example of the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of such a ban, take a look at San Diego. This coastal city has a ban on smoking in public parks, but an activist group recently collected tens of thousands of cigarette butts throughout the city's parks. This goes to show that while such a ban might be good in theory, the lack of enforceable measures makes it just a collection of thoughts on paper.

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