The California Senate passed legislation April 15th with a bipartisan vote that would prohibit smoking at state beaches and parks.

Senate Bill 4, authored by state Sen. Jenny Oropeza, would impose a $100 fine for any violation of the new bill. The legislation now moves to the desk of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“I’m grateful lawmakers of both parties support this effort to rid our beaches of one of the largest sources of pollution and stop fires in state parks caused by carelessly tossed cigarette butts,” Oropeza said after the bill passed.

More than 50 groups and organizations support Oropeza’s bill.

The bill would prevent smoking at local state beaches like Dockweiler State Beach in Playa del Rey.

Other cities throughout the state have taken the initiative to ban smoking at their municipal beaches, including Santa Monica. Los Angeles has widened its no-smoking recreation areas as well.

The No Smoking at State Parks and Beaches Act came after nearly four years of intensive legislative efforts.

The bill was scheduled for a vote April 12th, but many legislators were delayed leaving Los Angeles International Airport and the vote was rescheduled.

The senator cited several additional reasons for sponsoring SB 4. Among them was data compiled from state and federal agencies.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined cigarette butts to be the most frequently found marine debris item in the United States.

According to the Ocean Conservancy, in 2003 smoking-related items (in the form of cigarette filters, cigar tips, tobacco packaging, and cigarette lighters) accounted for 38 percent of all debris items found on beaches in the United States.

And according to the California Department of Forestry, over a five-year average, smoking has been found to annually cause more than 100 California forest fires and destroy more than 3,400 acres.

Oropeza has initiated other smoking and environmental cause legislation as well.

A previous measure, Senate Bill 7, called for a ban on smoking in cars with anyone younger than 18. It was signed into law in 2008, and is the nation’s third and toughest such measure, according to Oropeza’s office. The legislation applies to any car with a youth younger than the age of 18 and subjects the smoker to a $100 fine.

SB 4, if signed by Schwarzenegger, would officially become law January 1st, 2011.

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