Do you know that cigarette butts are the number one item consistently found during beach cleanups? These tiny pieces of marine debris take decades to decompose as they are made of plastic, they leach toxins into the water, and can be toxic to wildlife, young children, and pets if accidentally consumed. In efforts to protect the health of visitors, the ecosystem, and as part of Governor Kitzhaber’s executive order on Tobacco Use, Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department recently initiated a rule making effort to promote smoke free parks.

Oswald_Surfer3Oregon’s Public beaches are directly connected to many coastal State Parks, pictured here is the iconic Oswald West State Park. Photo Pete Stauffer

Check out Governor Kitzhaber’s Executive Order here.

Recent press coverage on the issue from the AP here.

Read the OPRD rule-making notice and draft rules: 736-010-015_Tobacco_Notice and all docs_2013.11-2

Noticeably absent from the draft rules was the inclusion of the Ocean Shore Recreation Area a.k.a. “Oregon’s Public Beaches”.  Surfrider Foundation Oregon Chapter leaders and staff recently submitted comments to OPRD that beaches should included in the current effort to improve consistency within the connected coastal State Parks, take direct steps to reduce a chronic source of marine debris, and improve the health & recreational experience of park and beach visitors. You can read our full letter here: OPRD_PublicComment_TobaccoUse_SurfriderFoundation

Check out a cool little video that our friends down at the San Diego Chapter pulled together to encourage people to Hold On To Their Butts. Do you have any creative ideas for outreach & education on the impacts of littered cigarette butts? If so, contact with your thoughts.

Interested in submitting public comment on this issue? Comments can be sent to:

Or you can attend some of the upcoming OPRD public hearings

1/7 7pm- Josephine Community Library, 200 NW C Street, Grants Pass

1/9 7pm- Champoeg State Heritage Area, Visitors Center, 8239 Champoeg Road

1/14 7pm- Bend Parks and Recreation Office, Riverbend Community Room, 799 SW

1/16 7pm- Newport Recreation Center, 225 Avery Street SE, Newport

A few suggested points to address:

-Please initiate rule making for tobacco use on the ocean shore recreation area under Division 21 rules in addition to the current draft rules before final adoption

-Including Oregon’s public beaches will help to improve consistency for implementation of new rules and eliminate the potential loophole by not including beaches
-Butts are a chronic source of marine debris that have impacts to human and environmental health, eliminating smoking on Oregon beaches will improve recreational enjoyment  of one of the greatest treasures of our park system, our public beaches.