Proposed Smoking Ban, State Parks
Last updated 4/13/2016 at 10:38am
A bill proposed by state Sen. Marty Block, that would end smoking in California’s state parks cleared a state Senate committee Tuesday, April 12, with a 7-2 vote. A move that brings advocates a step closer to banning smoking on Inland beaches, boating lakes, and in forests and orange groves where smoking is currently allowed.
The proposal would outlaw smoking at the Inland region’s nine state parks, recreation areas and other property, from Silverwood Lake, Lake Perris and the Salton Sea to Mount San Jacinto State Park and California Citrus State Historic Park.
The proposed ban includes all of the state parks system in California, which encompasses 40 miles of coastline, 970 miles of lake and river frontage and 4,500 miles of trails. About 67 million people visit state parks each year.
Lake Perris State Recreation Area’s Park Superintendent Mark Hudgens said “I truly don’t see that many people smoking in our parks. For health reasons, I think that banning smoking in public places is probably a beneficial thing.”
With committee passage, the bill now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee, and from there, the full Senate. The Assembly voted down a similar bill in 2010.
Wildfire risks are a major concern at Inland state parks. According to the bill, California has had 63,312 wildfires that burned more than 3.6 million acres. Discarded cigarette butts are one of the leading causes of fires in the state.
Last year during California’s fourth year of severe Drought, wildfire danger led to smoking bans at Mount San Jacinto State Park and Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area, which are both in the San Bernardino National Forest but were lifted after winter rain and snow.
Block introduced the bill to protect state park visitors, including beachgoers, from second hand smoke, to shield wildlife and marine creatures from tobacco-related toxins and to prevent fires caused by discarded cigarettes, Block’s spokeswoman Maria Lopez said.
The past decade has seen a major push against smoking in public, with bans at city parks and most college campuses, including the UC system. Smoking already is banned at parks in Banning, Corona, Hemet, Murrieta, Norco, Palm Springs and Temecula.