Like it or not, smoking is legal in Oregon, although illegal in many venues. Should beaches be added to the list? The Daily Astorian votes yes, but for nonsensical reasons (“Beach smoking ban is worthwhile,” Aug. 21).

Pristine beaches? Where? Oregon beaches yielded almost 25 tons of trash in this spring’s cleanup. Yes, the three most common items found were cigarette butts, fishing ropes and plastic bottles. Littering, i.e., the tossing of plastic bottles and cigarettes is currently an offense that subjects those so doing to being fined.

Impressionable children communing with nature? Well, maybe, but on most days on most beaches the children are too busy having a good time to do much communing. But if we’re worried about setting good examples for the children, then the drinking of alcohol and the use of medical marijuana on beaches should also be banned.

The cessation of smoking would be a public good, but it is fantasy to believe that a ban on beach smoking would be a step on that path. If there is to be a prohibition on tobacco use, then Oregon’s politicians should tackle that directly. But then they would need to fill the $400 million hole from tobacco taxes in the state’s biennial budget. No politician is that courageous.

So here is a novel idea for improving our beaches. Let’s enforce existing laws, rather than adding new ones that have no effect, other than making those who wish to be our nannies feel good about themselves because they’ve “done something.”

Jon Chambreau

Ilwaco, Wash.

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