California beaches and parks to be tobacco-free under new smoking, vaping ban

California will no longer allow people to smoke or vape at state parks and beaches, under a new law signed Gov. Gavin Newsom signed on Friday.

The law prohibits more than just cigarettes with tobacco. It also applies to marijuana and electronic cigarettes. Even so, people will still be allowed to smoke in parking lots and on roads outside state parks and beaches.

Senate Bill 8 will require the state’s Department of Parks and Recreation to post an estimated 5,600 signs at a total cost of $1.1 million to inform visitors of the prohibition. Once posted, people caught smoking may be fined up to $25.

Newsom’s decision comes as welcome news for state Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, and Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-Greenbrae. Both lawmakers tried for years to pass similar bills, which former Gov. Jerry Brown had vetoed three different times over concerns about the plan being “punitive” and expanding the “coercive power of government.”

“Third time is not always a charm,” Brown wrote in his veto message last year. “My opinion on the matter has not changed. We have many rules telling us what we can’t do and these are wide open spaces.”

On Friday, Newsom vetoed a proposal from Levine but signed a nearly identical one from Glazer.

“As a coauthor of SB 8, I am glad that California’s state parks and beaches will be tobacco free,” Levine said. “In fact, I’m camping at China Camp State Park tonight. As a park lover, I am glad I pushed this for three years.

Glazer praised Newsom’s decision, saying the law would provide “a cleaner, safer, and healthier environment for people, fish and wildlife” because “cigarettes are one of the biggest polluters of our beaches and oceans and have caused many forest fires.”

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Bryan Anderson is a political reporter for The Bee. He covers the California Legislature and reports on wildfires and transportation. He also hosts The Bee’s “California Nation” podcast.