Another Ban Failed: OR State Parks and Beaches

Oregon

Oregon State Parks and Beaches Update…

State comes to senses on beach smoking ban: Editorial Agenda 2014
A store window in Portland’s Kenton neighborhood advertising both conventional and electronic cigarettes. (Erik Lukens/The Oregonian)
November 10, 2014
Common sense appears to have stalled a proposed smoking ban on Oregon’s beaches, which cover roughly three billion miles of coastline … give or take. But “stalled” and “eliminated” are two different things entirely, and smokers can expect the effort to resume if they continue to use the sand as an ashtray.
The anti-smoking push began with a 2012 executive order in which Gov. John Kitzhaber called for a tobacco ban on state properties, including, he hoped, “state parks and recreation areas to address wellness issues, and to reduce the risk of forest fires.” Translating this call to action into a smoking ban on beaches – which have few trees and vast areas for smoke to dissipate – has always been a stretch even without considering the impossibility of enforcement.
Of course, the beach ban was never primarily about smoking per se, says Oregon Parks and Recreation Department spokesman Chris Havel. Rather, it was about littering, and many of those commenting on the proposal expressed frustration with the nasty little surprises tossed, seemingly without qualms, in the sand. If smokers refuse to recognize rules prohibiting littering, the thinking went, then why not ban smoking entirely? That’ll show ’em.
There are plenty of reasons not to take this step, ranging, again, from impracticality to the fact that smokers would be singled out for a problem – littering – that isn’t limited to cigarette butts. In their recommendation for the Nov. 19 meeting of the parks commission, in fact, department officials note that the coastal shore is the destination for debris from various places, including “coastal communities, and human activity in the coastal and Columbia River watersheds.” And then there are various forms of waste left behind by other beach visitors — including furry ones with four legs.
What parks department officials will recommend this month in the place of a smoking ban is an education campaign, accompanied by better signage and new receptacles at strategic locations. If the cigarette-butt problem doesn’t abate within a couple of years, the smoking-ban machinery will begin anew.
This approach is certainly more sensible than imposing an immediate ban that would not be enforceable. But will simply reminding smokers more creatively and conspicuously of what they already know – that they shouldn’t litter – affect behavior significantly? That’s a little hard to believe, just as it’s hard to believe that installing receptacles here and there will dissuade smokers so inclined from grinding their butts into the sand.
Such efforts certainly can’t hurt, but change has to begin with smokers themselves. They must realize that littering will invite regulation at some point even if it accomplishes nothing. Packing out cigarette butts is the obvious solution. Another is to use electronic cigarettes at the beach. No, we’re not shills for the vaping industry, but even disposable e-cigarettes last a whole lot longer than conventional cigarettes and, when spent, present fewer disposal challenges. They’re neither smoldering nor ash-tipped and are, therefore, more compatible with pockets. Finally, smokers who wouldn’t hesitate to toss a paper-wrapped cigarette butt in the sand might think twice before doing the same with a relatively large tube.
Parks officials can help encourage smoking alternatives by – gasp! – actively encouraging them. Government entities are often loathe to differentiate between cigarettes, which produce smoke and butts, and e-cigarettes, which produce neither, because doing so seems like a form of backsliding, even surrender. Thus, you get ill-considered bans on even e-cigarettes in public parks in places like Forest Grove andHillsboro.
But they are different, especially when it comes to litter. So why not acknowledge it and encourage the use that best addresses the problem? To encourage smokers to change their behavior, government agencies will have to change theirs, exempting users of e-cigarettes from an official regime of public shaming and, increasingly, banishment.
Will thinking outside the ashtray in this fashion produce results, on ocean beaches or elsewhere? Maybe, maybe not. But state officials can be sure that simply banning smoking on beaches will flop, whether they do it now or in two years.


Oregon drops plan to ban smoking on beaches?
November 06, 2014?
By The Associated Press?
SALEM — A plan to ban smoking on Oregon’s beaches that ran into substantial opposition has been shelved.?
Officials said it would have been tough to enforce the prohibition along the 362 miles of Oregon coastline, all of which is public and much of which is wild and isolated.?
The state Parks and Recreation Department proposed the rule in February as a way to reduce secondhand smoke and litter.?
“If we can accomplish those goals without a rule that would be difficult to enforce, we should try that first,” spokesman Chris Havel said. “This doesn’t mean we’ll never consider making it a rule, but we’re going to see how much headway we can make with education first, and, hopefully, that will be enough.”?
Gov. John Kitzhaber has told state agencies to reduce the public’s exposure to secondhand smoke. In response, the agency banned smoking in most parts of state parks, including trails and picnic areas, effective Jan. 1.?
Havel says that rule got more public support. In public hearings and written comments, proponents and opponents of the beach prohibition were of roughly equal numbers.?
“Once we begin banning smoking on the beach, what will we ban next?” wrote Theresa Roberts, of Tillamook County. “Will that include campfires or dogs or anything that annoys one group of people?”?
As for how the education initiative would work, Havel said placing signs that emphasize picking up trash would be a start. Other ideas are adding literature on agency websites and publications, and installing more cigarette-friendly trash receptacles.?
“We’re looking to produce the greatest benefit with the fewest amount of resources,” Havel said. “There’s no guarantee education will work, but it’s better to try and maybe get 90 percent of what we’re looking for than put something in writing that ends up being unnecessary.”?
So, he said, the department won’t recommend that the state Parks and Recreation Commission adopt the proposed rule. The panel has the final say on the department’s rules.?


Don’t like smoking bans at state parks? Do something about it
August 21, 2014
Zach Urness, Statesman Journal
Decisions are made by those who show up.
That axiom holds true whether you’re talking business, politics or rule-making at state parks.
And I mention it today following the Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission’s recent string of controversial bans on smoking at state parks. In February, the commission banned smoking at most outdoor areas at state parks including trails, picnic areas and other public spaces. This week, they’re taking public comment on a proposal to ban cigarettes on all 362 miles of beach along the Pacific coast.
Few issues have generated as much furor among readers as the smoking bans. Every time I write a story about the rule, hundreds of people comment online and on social media sites. The rules have also been denounced by multiplenewspaper editorial boards.
The majority opinion, from what I’ve seen, has been mostly negative. Many believe the rule is unenforceable, a gross overreaction and represents a slippery slope in terms of rule-making. OPRD has been called everything from a nanny-state enforcer to a rogue branch of tyrannical government on par with Nazis.
But there is one place where the comments have been in favor of the ban — and it’s the only place that matters. In the public comments that OPRD receives — that they use to make decisions — those in favor of the ban have the majority.
During the process to ban smoking at state parks, a total of 135 comments were recorded via email, mail and at hearings. Eighty comments supported the smoking ban and 55 opposed it.
That’s how the commission made its decision.
To be clear, I’m not a smoker and don’t care whether the rule is approved or not. But the disconnect between the avalanche of comments online, in emails and during phone conversations — and those willing to step up and express their opposition to the commission on the record — has been striking.
The bottom line is simple: if you don’t like the smoking ban, do something about it. Take that comment you posted on Facebook and copy and paste it into an email to: oprd.publiccomment@oregon.gov. Or, even better, show up at one of the public meetings OPRD is hosting and get your opinion on the record. The meetings begin at 7 p.m. at Central Lincoln Public Utility District in Newport (Aug. 21), Coos Bay Public Library (Aug. 26) and North Mall Office Building in Salem (Aug. 28).
Because, after all, decisions are made by those who show up.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*