VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – BC Ferries has announced it’s banning smoking on all vessels and at all terminals next year. In a second major change, passengers on the lower decks of major BC Ferries vessels will not be able to remain in their vehicles.
The smoking ban comes into effect on January 22nd, which BC Ferries says will give people time to adjust. The new smoke-free policy will apply to tobacco, marijuana and e-cigarettes.
“The reason we want to make this change is to improve the health of the environment for not just customers but employees as well. The majority of our customers and employees are non smokers and as society shifts on this issue we want to stay in line with that,” says Darren Johnston, BC Ferries’ Director of Fleet Operations.
He says it’s not enough for people just to go to outside areas to smoke.
“In most cases we have lots of wind swirling around the vessel taking smoke into intake vents and through other windows and doors and contaminating the environment for other passengers and employees.”
BC Ferries is also moving ahead with a policy it says puts it in line with federal regulators.
In October, passengers put on the lower car decks of major vessels will not be able to remain in their vehicles, and will instead have to move to common areas of the ships.
“We realize this will be inconvenient for some people, however where safety is concerned we can’t compromise. And we don’t even have the ability to opt out of this because it’s Transport Canada regulation,” says Johnston.
“It’ll put us in line with all the other ferry operators across the country, and for that matter, most other countries across the world.”
On larger vessels with both an upper and lower vehicle deck, customers will still be able to remain in their vehicles on the upper vehicle deck. BC Ferries says customers with special circumstances may make a request at the ticket booth to be placed on the upper vehicle deck, and staff will try to accommodate the request.
The policy will apply to 18 vessels that generally operate on the Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay, Tsawwassen – Duke Point, Horseshoe Bay – Departure Bay, Horseshoe Bay – Langdale, Powell River – Comox, Tsawwassen –Southern Gulf Islands, Port Hardy – Prince Rupert and Prince Rupert – Haida Gwaii routes. The policy also applies to the vessel that will operate the Port Hardy – Bella Coola route.