Commencing with the 12:45 p.m. sailing on June 13, from Duke Point (Nanaimo) to Tsawwassen (Vancouver), those B.C. ferry passengers wishing to go out on the outside decks for a breath of fresh air could, for the most part, do exactly that...for the first time, without any concern about a smoker lighting up upwind of them!

Responding to both customer and crew complaints, B.C. Ferry Services Inc. is currently implementing the new restrictions on all vessels on all of its major routes (Mainland - Vancouver Island,  Gulf Islands, Sunshine Coast, etc.).

The new signs are posted and a drastically-reduced number of ashtrays (which used to litter all of the outside decks, especially near doorways) are now restricted to the relatively small outdoor smoking area.

In the case of the Queen of New Westminster, that means that smoking is no longer permitted anywhere on the promenade (or main passenger) deck. Smoking is now restricted to both sides of the sun deck (the uppermost deck) aft; specifically, those areas of the sun deck which are outside of the aft lounge and aft of the aft-most public entrances/exits. In other words, smoking is now restricted to the two most aft and uppermost sections of outside deck accessible by the public, where the smoke is least likely to affect anyone else.

Most notably, the two large solariums (partially enclosed/sheltered, glassed-in seating areas) -- until today, more accurately called smoke pits -- are now smoke-free!

While it's not perfect (I.e., it's not the outright smoking ban that we have been seeking for years...and which Washington State Ferries successfully implemented [with little or no problems] a year and a half ago), it's a huge improvement over the previous situation (no restrictions on smoking whatsoever on the outside decks). Yes, it's now possible for all passengers to actually explore the vast majority of the outside decks without inadvertently sucking in the toxic and carcinogenic airborne residue of someone else's habit/addiction! And nothing ruins that "Let's go outside for a little fresh, sea air!" experience quite like secondhand tobacco smoke, especially on a hot summer day.

So, as long as any tailwinds don't exceed about 20 knots -- and there is little or no 'swirling' effect -- all passengers should be able to enjoy a smoke-free experience on the outside decks... and we at Airspace Action on Smoking & Health, heartily applaud B.C. Ferries for taking this initiative. We also encourage all passengers to take full advantage of the new rules. And, while we fully expect that the vast majority of smokers will respect and comply with the new rules, we urge all passengers to be vigilant...and to politely enforce any violations you may see or, alternatively, report such violations to any crew member.

In the meantime, we will continue to push for the total ban... a ban which B.C. Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall has publicly stated could happen, "eventually".