Enjoy California’s Smokefree Parks and Beaches

August 2, 2021

As California continues to open safely, lung health is important now more than ever. Smoke and vape free spaces are key to protecting your lungs and enjoying all California has to offer. Whether you’re exploring local communities or planning a road trip adventure, finding smokefree destinations with plenty of dining, shopping and recreation experiences is easy. Visit California can help plan your itinerary once you’ve picked your spot.

Californians have some of the most beautiful natural landscapes on the planet, and it’s easy to enjoy the outdoors at a local park or beach year-round.

Now, more of these scenic places are protected from the dangers of toxic secondhand smoke and the harm of tobacco-product pollution.  Thanks to the passage of Senate Bill 81 in October 2019, smoking and vaping is prohibited in most areas in California state parks and beaches. Following the installation of signage, people can be fined for leaving tobacco waste in state parks, unless disposed of in an appropriate waste receptacle.

This bill expands existing state tobacco protections, which restricts smoking or vaping at playgrounds, tot lot sandbox areas, and youth sporting events in public parks to protect children from secondhand smoke and vape. Existing state law also restricts the disposal of cigarette butts or other tobacco waste within 25 feet of playgrounds or tot lot sandbox areas.2

These are important laws for our communities for a number of reasons:

  1. All types of secondhand smoke is harmful to the lungs, including secondhand vape and marijuana.
  2. Tobacco waste, like cigarette butts, single use vape cartridges and disposable vapes, is primarily made of plastic and covered in toxic tobacco residue.3 4
  3. Tobacco waste can be found almost anywhere.5 In fact, more cigarette butts are collected during beach litter cleanups than any other type of litter, including plastic straws! 6
  4. Tobacco waste is left behind in parks and on beaches, posing a threat to children, wildlife and the environment.3 7 8

Local leadership on creating smokefree spaces

The State of California is following on the leadership of a growing number of cities and counties that have created completely smokefree outdoor spaces. More than 60 cities along the California coast have designated their local beaches as smokefree,3 and more than 200 cities and counties have established smokefree park laws.9

Still working toward a smokefree future

There is still a lot of room for improvement to be made at local, state and federal levels. Did you know that smoking and vaping is still allowed in national parks? If your local outdoor spaces aren’t smokefree, let your local community leaders know you’re concerned. You can start by visiting SecondhandDangers.org for tips on how to address the issue.

Lung health is important now more than ever. Smoke and vape free spaces are key when protecting your lungs. You can also reach out to your local department of public health for ways you can continue to keep big tobacco from polluting our environment.

You can find out where your local smokefree parks and beaches are:

Smokefree Parks

Smokefree Beaches

References renameme

  1. Senate Bill 8 (Steve Glazer, Chapter 761, Statutes of 2019), to add Section 5008.10 to the Public Resources Code.
  2. Health and Safety Code Section 104495.
  3. American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation. Municipalities with Smokefree Park Laws. 2017.
  4. Lerner CA, Sundar IK, Watson RM, et al. Environmental health hazards of e-cigarettes and their components: Oxidants and copper in e-cigarette aerosols. Environmental Pollution. 2015;198:100-107. doi:10.1016/j.envpol.2014.12.033
  5. 2019 CAGNY, Investor Presentation, Howard Willard – Chairman and CEO Altria Group, 2019.
  6. 5 ways cigarette litter impacts the environment, Truth Initiative, 2017.
  7. Novotny TE, Lum K, Smith E, Wang V, Barnes R. Cigarettes butts and the case for an environmental policy on hazardous cigarette waste. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2009;6(5):1691-705.
  8. Novotny TE, Hardin SN, Hovda LR, Novotny DJ, McLean MK, Khan S. Tobacco and cigarette butt consumption in humans and animals. Tob Control. 2011;20 Suppl 1(Suppl_1):i17-i20. doi:10.1136/tc.2011.043489
  9. American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation. Municipalities with Smokefree Park Laws. 2017.