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Ban on smoking in county parks moves forward: 'The goal is for a healthier community'

A ban on smoking and vaping in Lane County parks and campgrounds is headed to a vote of the Lane County Commission. (SBG Photo)

EUGENE, Ore. - A ban on smoking and vaping in Lane County parks and campgrounds is headed to a vote of the Lane County Commission.

The date and time of the vote have not yet been set.

But the county parks advisory committee on Monday night endorsed the proposed ban.

It would govern all 71 Lane County Parks, including county campgrounds.

"The ban on smoking in parks will reduce a possible fire hazard, reduce litter and has a potential to in a small way, reduce air pollution," said Curt Kerrick, who was camped out at the county's Armitage Park north of Eugene on Tuesday.

"Fire danger is a serious threat for us as well," said Tom Locascio, the caretaker at the Howard Buford Recreation Area that includes Mount Pisgah. "Strictly looking at it from a safety concern--not having people smoking is really going to help protect some of our wild outdoor open spaces."

RELATED | County drafts plan to manage Buford Park & Mount Pisgah, seeks public input

Mike Russell, the parks department director, said the proposal is an extension of the Community Health Improvement Plan adopted by Lane County 3 years ago.

"One of those recommendations from the plan is smoke-free county properties and that includes parks," he said.

Russell said that, if passed, county parks crews will be the enforcers of the law.

"Initially the effort will be to educate our visitors and not be punitive," Russell said. "The goal is for a healthier community."

The City of Eugene implemented a smoking ban at city parks on June 1.

Oregon State Parks limit where people can smoke.

"I think over time we're going to see more agencies moving towards this," Russell said.

Lane County is also moving forward on a plan to raise the legal age for purchasing or using tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21.


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