State restricts smoking on ferries

Posted: Friday, December 28, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- Smokers traveling the Alaska Marine Highway will find fewer places to light up under a newly clarified policy.

After complaints, Alaska Marine Highway System General Manager George Capacci updated the ferry system's smoking policy this month. Under the new policy, smoking is not allowed inside state ferries, except for one designated area in a bar on board the Columbia, where there is adequate ventilation. The goal is to make a consistent policy, Capacci said.

''We've had inconsistent enforcement on smoking inside the ships. Some you can, some you can't, Capacci said. ''I didn't want it to be arbitrary.''

Smoking will be allowed in designated areas on weather decks and designated open areas behind the solarium. Otherwise, smoking is off limits for passengers and crew in lounges, observation areas, passageways, dining areas, the car deck and inside the solarium, according to the policy.

In some cases, the ferry system will post new signs, Capacci said.

Alaska's smoking law was approved in 1984 and revised in 1990.

While the ferry system has received some complaints from people who want to smoke inside the bars on state ferries, it has received more complaints from nonsmokers about tobacco smoke, Capacci said.

The biggest change may be for crew members who smoke, he said.

''We've got to be consistent. The public has to understand and the crews have to understand,'' he said. ''Hopefully it will lead to a better experience.''

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