Lawmakers looking to ban smoking and vaping at state parks and beaches
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) —
State lawmakers are looking to ban smoking and vaping in state parks and beaches.
In order to enforce the ban, it will cost up to $1.1 million to install 20 signs at all 280 state park and beach.
If the bill passes, those in violation of smoking and vaping in state beaches and parks would face a $250 fine.
Supporters of the bill, including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and The American Lung Association say cigarettes and E-cigarettes are not only a health concern, but an environmental issue as well.
According to the Ocean Conservancy, cigarette butts are the most littered item on earth and account for one in every five items picked up during clean-up projects.
"They are non-biodegradable and contain over 164 toxic chemicals," said Tim Gibbs, Senior Dirctor of Government Relations for the American Cancer Society and Cancer Network.
Health officials, also say bans like these are a way to reduce the stagnant rate in smokers across the state of California.
"We still have more than three million smokers in California and we need to do something to help those folks quit and it's not only these bills and not just the bills that the governor signed a few weeks ago," said Gibbs.
The bill would not only include smoking, but vaping as well, which has been on the rise among young people. He says in 2013, more than 600,000 young people used E-cigarettes. That number rose to 2 million in 2014.
"Studies have shown that when a young person uses an e-cigarettes they're three times more likely to use traditional cigarettes, so this is a problem," said Gibbs.
However, Ted Sisco, Owner of Vapor Hut, says vaping should not be included in this ban because they don't have the same health impacts as smoking.
"Vaping is not a tobacco product, it does not give off the same harmful chemicals that traditional smoking does: the carbon monoxide, the carcinogens from the combustion of the tobacco," said Sisco.
Sisco says vaping is a healthier alternative to traditional smoking. He explains from his experience, that he has seen many successful stories of people getting off cigarettes and making the switch to vaping.
"If you talk to any person that is vaping they don't like the taste or smell of cigarettes after that so I don't really truly believe that it's a gateway to go into smoking. Smoking is a completely different taste and a lot of people that start vaping are actually disgusted by the taste and smell of cigarettes." ," said Sisco.
Sisco says that although the number of vapors are on the rise, the number of smokers among teenagers are at record low levels. According to the CDC, from 2011 to 2015, cigarette smoking declined among teenagers. About 2.3 percent of middle school students reported smoking in 2015, which is a decrease from 4.3 percent in 2011. 9.3 percent of high school students reported smoking in 2015. In 2011, that number was 15.8 percent.
"The whole point of an e-cigarette is to maintain an addiction to nicotine. The nicotine that is in those e-cigarettes are derived from tobacco plants. Without the tobacco plant there would be no electronic nicotine devices," said Gibbs.
This bill will move to the Assembly next.
A few other bills are up for debate including: prohibiting smoking at youth sporting events and colleges and universities. In November, voters will have the opportunity to weigh in on whether or not we should be raising the tobacco tax, which will also include E-cigarettes.