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.
Originally written By The Associated Press