SEASIDE — People voiced their opinions at a public hearing on the state proposal to ban tobacco products on beaches. The Wednesday hearing at the Seaside Public Library, was the first of four put on by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

The proposed state regulation would disallow the smoking of tobacco products “on the ocean shore state recreation area.” E-cigarettes, chewing tobacco and medical marijuana will not fall under the rule.

Of the approximately 300 comments received statewide for those rules, 24 percent asked the department to consider a similar rule-making effort for the ocean shore, and the commission instructed staff to look at smoking restrictions on beaches.

The division of opinion at the Seaside hearing was similar to what the statewide public has told the Parks Commission. Ten people, mostly from the area, spoke.

A majority agreed litter from cigarette butts is a problem, and that was a main reason behind many people’s support for the rule.

“Our ocean shores are a treasure,” said James Becraft, of Oceanside.

Improving public health and limiting secondhand smoke was the second most popular reason given for support.

Arch Cape resident Steven Blakesly of the Clatsop County Public Health Department said about 20 percent of tobacco-related deaths and illnesses are from secondhand smoke.

Bob Woodward, of Beaverton, said he was concerned about the cost of a program to ban the smoking of tobacco products on the ocean shore. He suggested the commission instead look into a recycling program, as he believes the filters in cigarettes are recyclable.

Piper O’Brien, of Seaside opposed the law. People should have the right to smoke on the beaches, which are a wide-open public space, she said. She is concerned implementing a rule restricting the smoking of tobacco products on the ocean shores will spiral into more restrictions of people’s personal rights.

George Warren, of Warrenton, agreed a greater effort to educate the public through signs, advertisements and other methods would be a better solution to try first. Already society faces a huge number of rules, he said. “This one could be considered bordering on the trivial,”

The State Parks and Recreation Department will receive comments until the end of the business day Aug. 29. They can be sent to the department through regular mail at OPRD Beach Smoking, 725 Summer St. NE, Suite C, Salem OR 97301 or by email at oprd.publiccomment@oregon.gov

Subsequent hearings will be held in Newport, Coos Bay and Salem.

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