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Cruise-goers confused by onboard smoking regulations

Eight months after the smoking ban was introduced in England two-thirds (66%) of the 5,500 people surveyed in an online poll said they did not know what the smoking policy was onboard cruise ships – with operators adding to the confusion by often not specifying what they term as ‘designated areas’.

What’s more, the findings issued by cruise community website, show that 68% of respondents believe British ships should follow British law and ban smoking completely.

The confusion has arisen as British law does not apply to cruise ships either docked or travelling within international waters. Therefore, cruise companies are left to apply their own laws meaning different rules apply to different vessels*. This lack of consistent regulations has left passengers baffled and at a higher risk of passive smoking, and 53% still thought cruise ships should not decide their own smoking policy.

The survey also revealed a worrying health & safety statistic – almost a quarter (23%) admitted to either throwing a cigarette overboard, or seeing someone else do it.  This is particularly disturbing following the Star Princess disaster in 2006 when a passenger’s discarded cigarette was blown back onto the ship causing extensive fire damage and one death.

Respondents were not just concerned about their own safety either – the results revealed a concern for cruise ship workers’ health with nearly three quarters (74%) saying smoking should be banned in bars and lounges to protect staff.

Sukie Rapal, head of marketing at, said: “This research shows the apparent need for consistent smoking policies across all cruise operators so that confusion amongst passengers can be reduced.

“One solution could be for the operators to make their own policies clearer in all marketing collateral such as websites and brochures. However, it does seem to be more of a legal issue that needs to be overcome.

“Perhaps more worrying is that people appear to be oblivious to the potential hazards of smoking onboard a ship – simply because they are free from regulation. By being careless with used cigarette ends, some smokers are risking their fellow passengers’ safety, which should be controlled by having regulations in place on board all ships.”

The research was carried out by on its website and canvassed a total of 5,525 visitors.

A summary of the main findings is below:

  • 66% of respondents do not know the smoking policy onboard cruise ships
  • 68% of respondents believe British ships should follow British law and ban smoking completely
  • Only 47% of respondents thought that cruise ships should decide their own smoking policies
  • 23% of respondents admitted to either throwing a cigarette ends overboard or witnessed someone else doing so
  • 74% say smoking should be banned in bars and lounges for the sake of staff’s health