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Smoking Could Soon Be Illegal in Calif. Parks, at Beaches

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California lawmakers have approved extending bans on smoking in public to state parks and beaches, motivated less by health concerns than a desire to cut down on litter.

The Christian Science Monitor reported March 23 that lawmaker Sen. Jenny Oropeza is proposing a $100 fine for anyone caught smoking at a park or beach. The measure was recently approved by the California legislature and is bound for the desk of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Debra Kelley of the American Lung Association of California noted that cigarette butts don't biodegrade and contain high levels of toxins that pose a hazard to fish and wildlife. Backers also cited the threat of forest fires from discarded cigarettes.

“We want to make it clear that this is an attempt to protect the environment at beaches and parks that is long overdue,” said Ray Sotero, a Oropeza spokesperson.

The California legislation is being closely watched since other states often follow its lead on smoking regulations.

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