Black Press file photo All BC Ferries vessels and terminals will be smoke-free environments starting Monday, Jan. 22

Smoking ban arrives on BC Ferries

No crackdown, just education as BC Ferries enacts smoking ban

Smoke on a BC Ferries vessel, or at a terminal this morning and you will be asked to stop.

That’s it.

There will be no tickets issued or extra patrols scouring the ships today, or in the immediate future, just attempts at educating the public as the ferry corporation enacts its long-promised smoking ban.

Effective this morning, BC Ferries officially became a smoke-free environment, banning all smoking substances including tobacco and e-cigarettes to all terminals, vessels, and the interior of any vehicles parked on their property.

“As enforcement it will be an education process,” said Deborah Marshall, BC Ferries executive director of public affairs. “Our employees would be explaining to a customer that if somebody was smoking that we are now a smoke free environment and we would appreciate if they would extinguish their cigarette.”

The ban, announced last August, is aimed at reducing the exposure to second-hand smoke for BC Ferries customers.

“Eighty-five per cent of British Columbians do not smoke and the reason why we are going to a smoke free environment is to reduce the harm from second hand smoke,” Marshall said.

At least one Vancouver Island resident feels the new regulations are discriminating towards smokers.

“To me [the ban] is discrimination to us that smoke,” said Port Alberni resident Gale St. John. “With [BC Ferries] being the only highway to get off or on the Island, then how can they put this rule in? It’s like them saying you can’t get on the ferry because you wear a turban, to me it’s the same thing.”

St. John, who uses the BC Ferries fairly frequently, believes the company should designate an area on the ferry and in their parking lots for smokers to have a cigarette.

“If I’m sitting in my vehicle and I’ve got to wait three or four hours and I’m not allowed to have a cigarette because I’m on your property? If I walk up and around, my luck I’m going to be the next vehicle on the ferry and I’m going to be here having a cigarette,” she said.

Related: Major changes coming to BC Ferries

The smoking ban is the second big change announced last year. The company also announced a restriction on people staying in their vehicles during a sailing, if parked on one of the lower vehicle decks.

“Again its an education process so our staff would inform [passengers] that it is a Transport Canada regulation and no passengers are permitted to remain on the car deck during the voyage on a closed deck,” Marshall said. “If [passengers] prefer to stay in their car, when they are at the ticket booth ask the ticket agent if they can be placed on the upper car deck and our staff will do everything that they can to try to accommodate that request.”

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