On Sunday evening, cannabis activist Jodie Emery shared a photo of herself smoking aboard BC Ferries on Instagram. She captioned the photo: “Smoke on the water… high on the high seas! It’s a west coast tradition out here in B.C.”
The responses from her followers were positive, but the post was also shared to her Twitter account where it received mixed reviews.
Someone replied to Emery’s tweet and asked: “Aren’t @BCFerries smoke free?” BC Ferries responded to that comment saying the ferries and terminals are indeed smoke free and that if someone is seen smoking on the ferry, the crew should be notified.
Hi there, we offer a smoke-free environment onboard all vessels and at all terminals. If you see someone smoking onboard, please speak with a crew member for the most immediate assistance. ^rj
— BC Ferries (@BCFerries) July 8, 2019
The replies to Emery’s tweet indicated that other BC Ferries users don’t agree that smoking on the ferry is a west coast tradition. Many Twitter comments showed outrage and called for Emery to be banned from BC Ferries.
U should be ashamed of yourself!!!💩💩💩
— Kevin (@MinceKevin) July 8, 2019
And if you're driving, it's impaired driving… btw, in case anyone ever told you, @BCFerries is non-smoking. You are selfish, disrespectful, and increasingly unhinged…
— Greg Mitchell (@gdmplanning) July 8, 2019
Other comments voiced support for Emery, saying that lots of people smoke on the ferry as long as no one else is around.
We smoke and drink on the Ferries all the time, just like you and make sure no one is watching.
— felinesexy (@felinesexy) July 9, 2019
— Cindy Heemeryck (@cinfulhotdog) July 9, 2019
BC Ferries executive director Deborah Marshall says this is a reminder to all passengers that BC Ferries is a smoke-free environment. She says that the smoke-free policy is a health and wellness initiative that applies to all substances including marijuana, tobacco and vape.
Marshall wasn’t aware of Emery’s tweet, but says that if an employee notices someone smoking or is alerted to the fact that someone is smoking, they’ll simply ask the passenger to extinguish the substance.
No one will be banned from the ferry for smoking, she says, because BC Ferries views the situations as opportunities to educate and politely remind people about their smoke-free policy.
The smoke-free policy is about a year-and-a-half old now as it was implemented in January 2018. In that time, there have been very few reports of issues on the ferries, Marshall explains. If anything, people are unaware of the policy and most passengers are respectful when they’re told, she says.
“Society has changed in the past 20 years,” says Marshall. “People used to smoke everywhere, but people are more aware now.”
Marshall doesn’t see the polite reminders to passengers who smoke becoming harsher responses in the future.
“[BC Ferries] simply wants to educate people that this is a smoke-free environment.”