For the third time, a bill to ban smoking on California state beaches and parks has died on the governor’s desk.
Gov. Jerry Brown (D-California) vetoed Senate Bills 835 and 836 on Thursday, saying in his veto message “the third time isn’t always the charm.”
Brown isn’t the only one to call the bills an example of government overreach.
“There’s so many nanny state bills on the floor, it’s hard to keep track of them,” Assembly Member Matthew Harper (R-Huntington Beach) said at a hearing last month. “It’s like the ban of the month club here on the floor of the state assembly.”
But Assembly Member Mark Levine (D-San Rafael) said the measures, which include a $25 fine for rule breakers, are needed to protect against environmental dangers, but fire risks.
“The 2017 California wildfire season was the most destructive on record and 2018 isn’t off to a good start,” Levine said at the August hearing. “Moreover, Cal Fire reports that over the last 10 years, 10 percent of California fires were started by carelessly discarded cigarettes.”
Others in support of the measure cited the health impacts of secondhand smoke and the sheer annoyance caused by cigarette litter and smoke as reasons to pass the measures.
But Harper said people who don’t want to breathe in second-hand smoke can go find a different section of the beach to enjoy.
“The beaches are huge, there’s plenty of space,” Harper said.
Cynthia Replogle, the Hold On to Your Butt Surfrider San Luis Obispo Chapter Program Coordinator, says cigarettes aren’t just a nuisance.
“Cigarette filters contain plastic so they can take up to 25 years to degrade,” Replogle said.
She then noted the annual Central Coast Cleanup events that net countless cigarette butts.
“In SLO County, in just one morning over a 3-hour period, volunteers picked up 15,000 cigarette butts.”
It’s a fact that Assembly Member William Brough (R-Dana Point) recognized on the floor.
“The fact is half the debris on beaches from three decades from Coastal Commission Cleanups, cigarette butts are nearly half the debris,” Brough said.
But Brough too voted against the bill, saying there must be a better way than a ban to clean up beaches. Brough said that the solution should be discussed next session.
Replogle said the state just needs a new governor to make the change.
“I think we might need to wait until we have a new governor, maybe the next governor will be a little more forward thinking,” Replogle said.