Don’t Like Smoking Bans at State Parks? Do something about it 


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: 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.


Originally written By: Zach Urness,

Statesman Journal

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