Though California state lawmakers made moves to to ban smoking and vaping in state parks and beaches, Gov. Jerry Brown has made a move to stop the ban in its tracks.
“If people can’t smoke even on a deserted beach, where can they? There must be a limit to the coercive power of government,” wrote Brown in his veto message.
Lawmakers made the move against smokers to lessen the impact of secondhand smoke and nicotine and to cut down on the amount of litter created by discarded cigarette butts. This is in addition to the smoking age being raised to 21 years last year. California voters also approved a $2-per-pack hike in tobacco taxes last year. These bills follow a trend of a decrease in smokers in the state. In 1988, 24 percent of the state’s population smoked. In 2014, that number was down to 12 percent, making California one of states with the lowest smoking rates in the U.S.
Brown vetoed two bills on Friday that would have impacted smokers, including bill SB 386. It would have imposed a $100 fine if someone was caught smoking electronic cigarettes, marijuana or tobacco products. The same bill would have required the California state parks department to post “no smoking” signs. Brown estimated that after other state fees were added to that violation that a person could end up paying up to $485 for breaking the law.
Though smokers and pro-tobacco, vaping and cannabis groups applaud Brown’s veto, the bills did have support that puts him at odds with lawmakers and supporters of the bills including the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, American Heart Association, San Francisco Baykeeper, and March of Dimes, among others.
Some are questioning Brown’s reasons for vetoing the bill, with some going so far to claim his actions were politically motivated. The bill’s author, Senator Steve Glazer (D.-Orinda), found himself at odds with the governor after refusing to vote for and support a 12-cent-per-gallon increase in California’s tax tax. Brown and other Democrats in the state saw this gas tax hike as a way of raising an additional $5.4 billion for highway, bridge and local road projects each year.
The other bill Brown vetoed with AB 725, proposed by Assemblyman Marc Levine (D.-San Rafael). It was similar to SB 386 but would have imposed a $250 fine.
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