Gov. Jerry Brown vetoes smoking bans, cigarettes still permitted at parks and beaches

Gov. Jerry Brown

While wildfires blaze in the northern part of the state, California residents won't be losing their right to smoke at state parks or public beaches anytime soon.

Last Friday, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed two bills that would have banned cigarettes, marijuana, and vaping in parks and beaches statewide.

One of the bills, composed by Assemblyman Marc Levine, proposed to allow smoking zones in some parks and beaches with the stipulation that violators receive a $50 fine for smoking outside designated areas. Sen. Steve Glazer submitted a similar proposal with even stricter terms, imposing a steep $100 fine on illegal smokers and only allowing for smoking zones in state parks—banning smoking altogether on public beaches.

In a public response to the bills, Brown posed to legislators, "If people can’t smoke even on a deserted beach, where can they?" Current California legislature already prevents smokers from indulging their habit in restaurants, bars, and enclosed workplaces. College campuses and other public places in the state also tend to prohibit smoking or enforce designated zones.

According to lawmaker Sen. Glazer, the smoking ban has nothing to do with infringing on Californians' freedoms. His goal in proposing the bill was to lighten the litter costs inflicted by cigarette butts, reduce the risk of wildfires, protect wildlife from the toxic effects of eating smokers' litter, and limit people's exposure to secondhand smoke. Some areas of Southern California already enforce a smoking ban for similar reasons. Just this year, Laguna Beach took the first step for a smoke-free Orange County by banning public smoking in the entire city.

This isn't the first time that California legislators have spoken up for smoking laws on parks and beaches. Former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a nearly identical bill in 2010 to protect Californians from "an improper intrusion of government into people's lives."