High school students put fairground smokers in their place

LYNDEN, Wash. -- The days of wandering the fairgrounds with a corn dog in one hand and a cigarette in the other have ended at the Northwest Washington Fair.

The change is because some high school students who are concerned about the effect of second-hand smoke on children decided to do something about it.

"It didn't seem right for people to be able to smoke almost anywhere outdoors here," said Kelly Allen, who graduated last Spring from Squalicum High School. "We thought, let's try to change things."

Allen and several classmates in a school club that focuses on health issues made a presentation to the fair board last Spring. It focused on the dangers of second-hand smoke and kids.

The board agreed there was a better way to manage outdoor smoking. Starting this year there are ten designated smoking areas throughout the fairgrounds clearly marked with signs.

Smoking is also permitted in the parking lots.

Jessy explained it this way: "Instead of having a smoking fair with designated non-smoking areas, we changed it to a non-smoking fair with designated smoking areas."

The fair manager says he has received no complaints since gates opened Monday. The fair runs through Saturday, Aug. 16th in Lynden.

While several non-smokers commented how much they appreciate the new policy, some smokers are not happy with the changes.

"I'd rather be able to light up wherever I want to," said Samantha Fishbeck, who is working at the fair. "I've always tried to keep my smoke away from kids and doorways. These designated smoking areas are inconvenient."

Jessy says the new policy gives smokers more than enough places to light up, and it allows non-smokers to avoid cigarette smoke.