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Ban on tobacco in Lane County parks, campgrounds moves closer to reality

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. - Lane County moved closer to imposing a ban on tobacco in its parks and campgrounds.

The Board of Commissioners voted 4 to 1 to direct staff to advance the ban to a work session before the end of the year. Commissioner Jay Bozievich was the lone dissenting vote.

"So we're basically telling a segment of our population, which also happens to be leaning towards low income and veterans: you're not welcome in Lane County Parks for long periods of time," Bozievich explained of his opposition.

The proposal brought forward by the county's health department has already received the blessing of the county's parks advisory committee. The county health department also favors raising the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21.

"So this is one strategy that helps to create an environment that's more welcoming for people who are trying to quit," said Karen Gaffney with Lane Health and Human Services Department.

The parks committee favors a blanket ban on smoking anywhere in the park over a rival proposal that would allow smoking in individual campsites.

Pat Hoover, a member of the advisory committee, said it doesn't make sense to the group "that we would condemn smoking in part of our parks, and then condone smoking in campsites and RV pads."

"I just really feel strongly that we need to model behavior for them that does not normalize smoking," said Tamara Miller, a community member who testified at Tuesday's meeting.

But while he voted in favor of advancing the measure, Commissioner Sid Leiken expressed some skepticism.

"We may put up enough signs that say 'ban' and we can't enforce it," he said, "so I think at this point in time it may be just kind of a feel good."

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


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