The flick of a lighter and a puff of smoke on a California state beach or trail will become a no-no in 2020.
If you break the new law — Senate Bill 8 — the fine is $25, but court fees will bring it to more than $100 or $200 depending on the county, says California Department of Parks and Recreation spokesperson Adeline Yee.
"It'll be park by park, beach by beach,” said Yee. “We want to make sure visitors are well aware of the law before we start imposing any fines."
Beginning Jan. 1 smokers will have to find a parking lot or paved road to light up. The law includes cigars, cigarettes, pipes, vaping devices and any other heated tobacco or plant product used to smoke. State parks owns about a third of the California coastline — around 340 miles of shoreline — and operates 1.4 million acres of park units.
Yee says there’s enough space for smokers and nonsmokers alike on state park land.
“It's not going to be a huge separation,” said Yee. “You may be walking like 50 feet to go smoke and then come back to rejoin your friends and family.”
In total about 5,600 signs need to be created, and Yee says it will cost the state around $2 million for permitting and making the signs. She says funding will come from the state general fund.
Barry Smith, the chief ranger for the Gold Fields District of California State Parks, says the agency is “just kind of adapting but still not excluding people but including them in by allowing it in certain areas."
Similar bills were vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown three times. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill In October.
In the 30 years the California Coastal Cleanup annual event has taken place, more than 7.5 million cigarette butts have been collected. Butts are the most numerous piece of trash found during the event.
A 2010 study from San Diego State University found that the chemicals in one filtered cigarette butt can kill fish living in one-liter of water.
"The most important finding in this research is that it seems to be the filter, or rather what's in the left-over filter that is most dangerous," the author’s lead researcher Richard Gersberg said.
The researchers said they think “cigarettes should be considered toxic waste and new requirements need to be established for how they are disposed."
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