BEND, Ore. -

Smoking at Oregon state parks could soon be a thing of the past, as the state Park and Recreation Department considers changing its rules. A public hearing took place Tuesday night in Bend.

If approved, the rule would ban smoking in outdoor areas, like hiking trails. Smoking is already banned inside public buildings in the parks.

Smokers still would be able to smoke in personal vehicles, tents and RVs, plus campsites in developed overnight camping areas.

"There is obviously the second-hand smoke issues," Richard Walkoski with OPRD said. "But even a larger issue for us is the litter that was left behind, the cigarette butts."

The goals of the department's proposal are to reduce litter and protect natural resources within the parks.

Since last week, the state has been looking for feedback on the issue. Four public hearings were scheduled across Oregon.

One thing that has come up frequently is how the current new rule would not ban smoking on Oregon beaches.

"They (the commission) may instruct us to go forward and look at smoking restrictions, or at least have some public hearings on smoking restrictions on the ocean shore," Walkoski said.

The next public meeting is scheduled for Thursday night in Newport.

Public testimony will be taken until Friday at 5 p.m. For more information on the rule change or how to submit comments, CLICK HERE

If the rule change happens, it would take affect in March.