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Oregon holds first public hearing on proposed coastal smoking ban

PORTLAND Ore. (Reuters) - Oregon parks officials will hold an initial public hearing on Wednesday night into a plan to would make the state the first to ban smoking along its entire coastline.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission will conduct a series of such hearings, taking opinions from members of the public, before voting in October on the smoking ban on the state's 363-mile coastline.

If approved by the commission, the beach tobacco restrictions would carry a $110 fine, although parks officials said they plan to warn rule-breaking smokers, not punish them.

“I imagine a ranger would say, ‘You’re going to have to stop that, it’s not allowed,’” Oregon Parks and Recreation Department spokesman Richard Walkoski said. “It’s about education. You’d really have to be a jerk to get a citation.”

A similar ban on smoking in all state parks was approved earlier this year, with several loopholes added at the urging of the public – it’s still OK to light up in a private vehicle or at a rented tent site.

Oregon’s coastline is state-owned, and its management is delegated to the commission.

(Reporting by Courtney Sherwood in Portland, Oregon; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Eric Walsh)