Christine Cohen

State Senator

Christine Cohen

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Listening, Advocating & Getting Results

May 29, 2019

Cohen-Introduced Bill to Ban Smoking and Vaping
at State Park Beaches Advances in Senate

Senate Democrats Photo

HARTFORD, CT – Today, the state Senate advanced legislation to ban smoking and vaping at state park beaches by a bipartisan 33-3 vote. State Senator Christine Cohen (D-Guilford) co-introduced this legislation, led debate on the state Senate floor, and said this ban will positively affect the state park beach experience for beach-goers.

“I am thrilled to see the state Senate move this bill forward,” said Sen. Cohen. “This legislation prioritizes the health of our environment and the many individuals who enjoy our state park beaches.”

Senate Bill 752, “An Act Concerning Smoking and Vaping on Beaches in State Parks,” will ban all smoking and vaping on a beach located in a state park. This legislation bans the use of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, pipes and any other device with lighted tobacco in specified areas.

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEEP) will post a notification of this law on its website and park attendants will inform the public of this law when they enter the park. The DEEP commissioner may also enforce a warning for the first violation. The second violation is an infraction and will result in a fine. If enacted, this law will go into effect on July 1, 2019.

Sen. Cohen said this legislation is imperative to preserving our state park beaches and ensuring all who visit are not subject to the health risks associated with second hand smoke from cigarettes or vaping devices.

Multiple studies have been conducted on the health risks associated with secondhand smoke from e-cigarettes. According to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, electronic cigarettes emit potentially toxic substances. The American Lung Association, which has provided public testimony in favor of this legislation, reported that E-cigarettes produce dangerous chemicals which can cause lung and heart disease. The United States Surgeon General has also warned against the risks of inhaling secondhand smoke from e-cigarettes.
In addition to the health risks involved with inhaling secondhand smoke, vaping and smoking at state park beaches also contributes to pollution and ocean pollution. Due to cigarette filters not being biodegradable, they can release toxins into the air and put all at risk.

If signed into law, Connecticut will join Maine with a statewide ban on smoking at a beach in a state park. New Jersey also enacted a ban on smoking at all public beaches in January.

This legislation will additionally allow DEEP to expand the number of people who can participate in group fishing licenses provided to tax exempt organizations from 50 individuals to 100 and allows DEEP to provide a rebate to agents that issue fishing and hunting licenses for the purchase of equipment and software required when issuing fishing and hunting licenses. The agent must prove a hardship in purchasing the required equipment.

Prior to passing the state Senate, this bill advanced out of the Environment Committee 25-4. It now awaits action by the state House of Representatives and a signature by Governor Ned Lamont.