Smokers may not be able to light up at state parks in 2014

SALEM, Ore. (AP) The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is drawing up rules that could limit smokers to their personal and recreational vehicles.

The department's staff is working on proposals in expectation of getting them adopted by early 2014, the Salem Statesman Journal reported Tuesday.

The general recommendation from the staff is to permit smoking only in personal vehicles and RVs, said Chris Havel, a state parks spokesman.

An order from Gov. John Kitzhaber went into effect this month banning smoking and chewing tobacco along the perimeter of most state offices.

The governor's order gives some agencies, such as the parks department, until next year to write rules. The state Parks and Recreation Commission has to approve rule changes suggested by staffers. To follow the spirit of the governor's order, however, new restrictions on tobacco use at parks are almost a given.

"People can expect that something is going to come of this," Havel said.

The rules would apply to a T-shaped area around the Capitol that the department manages, he said.

"We'd handle that area the same way we handle any other state park," Havel said.

They also would apply to the state fairgrounds, year round and not just during the Oregon State Fair, he said.

Park rangers have the authority to cite visitors who violate the rules, but it's more common for them simply to ask for compliance, Havel said.

Local jurisdictions have also been working to curb smoking in parks. Around Salem, Stayton and Independence have approved smoke-free rules in city parks. In Dallas, the town's largest park has a designated smoking area, and other parks officially are smoke free.

In Salem itself, City Council member Diana Dickey proposed two years ago to make it unlawful to "smoke or carry any burning smoking instrument while in any park." Councilors voted down the ordinance.

"Some of the councilors felt it was a freedom issue," Dickey said. Concerns also were raised about the ability to enforce no-smoking rules.

Information from: Statesman Journal

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.