LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Shoppers in the city of Los Angeles need to bring  their own reusable bags to grocery stores, now that a ban on single-use plastic  bags has gone into effect.

Many of Los Angeles County's 88 cities have already phased-out the  flimsy bags sometimes blamed for choking marine life, but the city of Los  Angeles is by far the most populous, with an estimated 228,000 bags distributed  per hour. The ban went into effect Wednesday.

Absent the availability of plentiful and free single-use carryout  grocery bags, millions of grocery shoppers will now be faced with shedding  their plastic bag habit in favor of bringing reusable bags to supermarkets like  Ralphs and Vons, drug stores like CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens, and even some  convenience stores like 7-Eleven.

Stores like Wal-Mart and Target that also sell groceries must stop  handing out single-use plastic bags as well. The ban's initial rollout will  apply to any grocery retailer that makes at least $2 million in gross annual  sales or is housed in at least 10,000 square feet of retail space.

Paper bags will cost 10 cents each. Reusable bags will also be  available, either free-of-charge or for sale.

The plastic bag ban and accompanying 10-cent charge for paper bags will  expand to smaller shops and convenience marts starting July 1.

Not all plastic bags will be banned. Clear plastic sacks for produce and  meat, as well as bags for pharmacy items, will still be available and free to  shoppers. Restaurants, department stores and other shops that do not carry  grocery items are exempt from the ban.

Stores have been reminding customers since November of the impending ban  via placards and a public outreach campaign.

Grocery retailers could be fined for each day they violate the ban. They  could be fined up to $100 for the first violation, as much as $200 for the  second, and up to $500 for the third.

To help ease the transition, the city is handing out about 1 million  reusable bags in low-income areas. Participants of SNAP, WIC and EBT programs  will get reusable bags or recyclable paper bags free-of-charge.

The Los Angeles City Council passed the ban in June, making Los Angeles,  with its more than 3.8 million residents, the most populous city in the  nation to do so. The city thus joined Los Angeles County and a long list of  other cities that already have bans in place, including West Hollywood, Culver  City, Huntington Beach, Long Beach, Malibu, Santa Monica, Glendale and  Pasadena.

In 2007, San Francisco became the first city in the nation to adopt a  plastic bag ban.

A statewide ban proposed by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, a former  Los Angeles councilman, was defeated in May.