Anti-smoking advocates around the state experienced an unpleasant blowback Monday, May 3rd when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed legislation that would have banned smoking in state parks and on state beaches, including Dockweiler State Beach in Playa del Rey.
Senate Bill 4 was authored by Sen. Jenny Oropeza.
“This bill would impose a ban on smoking in parks and coastal beaches by the state of California,” Schwarzenegger, a longtime cigar smoker, said in a statement after his decision not to sign the bill. “While I understand and appreciate the intent of the author with respect to addressing the issues of public health protection, fire hazard mitigation and marine debris, I am unable to sign the bill for several reasons.”
The governor said he felt the bill was “an improper intrusion by the government into people’s lives.”
“I have supported laws in the past that tackle the problem of smoking indoors and in cars with children,” Schwarzenegger noted. “But by mandating in state law that people may not smoke outdoors in certain areas, this bill crosses an important threshold between state power and command and local decision making.”
Both laws that Schwarzenegger referenced are authored by Oropeza.
Oropeza expressed disappointment after learning of Schwarzenegger’s veto.
“I’m sorry the governor did not agree with this widely supported effort to increase public awareness about the environmental threats carelessly tossed cigarettes are doing to our marine life and to the great outdoors,” the senator, whose district includes the coastal areas of Venice, Marina del Rey and Play del Rey. “In addition to the clear environmental, fire safety and health reasons sought to be addressed under SB 4, the governor’s veto is in stark contrast to what is already being done at more than 100 local cities and counties statewide.”
Schwarzenegger said the more appropriate response for marine debris would be to increase fines and penalties for those who litter in state recreation areas.
“When considering the contiguous nature of state-owned and locally owned beaches, the purpose of this bill is undermined if the difference between legal and illegal activity is literally a line in the sand,” he said.
More than 100 cities, including Santa Monica, have banned smoking at their municipal beaches, some which are in close proximity to state beaches.
SB 4 would have imposed a $100 fine for anyone caught smoking at state recreation facilities.
A spokesman for Oropeza’s office said she will pursue an anti-smoking measure next year.