Bill aims to snuff smoking on ferries

"Ferry officials would like to do away with smoking aboard Washington State Ferries, and a bill introduced in the Senate would do just that.Smokers were the target of several negative comments at Thursday night's Ferry Advisory Board meeting in Freeland, and not a single person rose to their defense.Jayme Schmidt pointed out the existence of SB 6281, introduced by Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island. They should ban smoking on a 20-minute route, Schmidt said, referring to the Clinton-Mukilteo route. He told a couple of horror stories about people who refused to stop smoking even when told to do so by crew members.At present, smokers are directed to the aft end of the ferry where they can puff away legally. But ferry officials at the meeting noted that keeping smokers in the designated area is difficult, and it's hard for busy ferry workers to enforce.We'd love to have the Legislature make that rule for us, to ban smoking, said Tracy Brewer, regional operations manger.Others in the audience complained that smokers bother visitors and kids.We want it to be a misdemeanor enforceable by the State Patrol, said Joe Nortz, operations manager for the entire ferry system. Make it a citable offense.Haugen said Friday that this is her first effort to totally ban smoking on state ferries. She said she introduced the bill after receiving complaints from constituents. We don't allow it in any other public facility, she said, describing herself as an asthmatic who can relate to people bothered by the smoke.A hearing on the bill is set for 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 27 in a hearing room in the John A. Cherberg Building. We'll see what people have to say, Haugen said."

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