• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

CA bill would end smoking at beaches

March 24, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A California state senator is looking to snuff out cigarettes at all state parks and beaches.Senator Jenny Oropeza introduced a new bill Tuesday that would eliminate smoking at 279 state parks and 64 beaches.

A similar bill authored by Oropeza was killed in committee last year.

This latest effort would fine offenders $250 for violations.

Oropeza said eliminating smoking would greatly reduce the threat of forest fires in California's parks.

She also wants to cut cigarette butts, littered on state beaches, by not creating the trash in the first place.

"It doesn't just say you can't throw the butt down after you've smoked it, but you can't smoke it in the first place," Oropeza said, "You can't do the function that creates the litter. So it's one step further... Cigarette butts are absolutely insidious on our beaches and are the most prevalent piece of litter on our beaches. And so we think it's that extra step of saying don't smoke at all is necessary."

Critics in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee said state parks don't have enough personnel to enforce a smoking ban, and said the bill's $250 fine is too much.

Oropeza, who also authored the law banning smoking in cars with children, argued she hopes rangers and lifeguards won't have to issue many citations, because people will respect the law.

She also said says she may consider reducing the fine as the bill moves through the Legislature.

The bill now heads to Senate Appropriations Committee.