LYNDEN - For years, people at the Northwest Washington Fair could smoke almost anywhere they pleased.
They were free to light up as long as they were outdoors and weren't in the kids' carnival or an eating area. That bothered a group of Squalicum High School students, who took their concerns to the fair board.
As a result, this year's fair, which starts Monday, Aug. 11, smoking will be prohibited at most of the fair, except for 10 designated areas. Smoking also will be allowed in parking lots outside the fair.
The change came after a May 15 meeting, when the four Squalicum students presented information on the dangers of second-hand smoke to the fair board.
Amy Hockenberry, prevention coordinator for Whatcom County Health Department, said the students wanted to convey the message that they and younger kids shouldn't have to inhale second-hand smoke while enjoying the fair.
Hockenberry said she was impressed by the board's "openness" and that they were quick to adopt the new policy.
Jim Baron, the fair's manager, said the change was an opportunity for the board to clarify tobacco rules during the fair. The board also decided to restrict e-cigarette use to the smoking areas.
The students came together through Squalicum Health Alliance, a Squalicum High program supported by the Whatcom Prevention Coalition and by the county Health Department.
Getting the rules changed isn't the end of the students' efforts. Working with fair staff, they will put up signs, supplied by the county Health Department, for the smoking areas. They also will attend the fair to hand out information about the dangers of tobacco use.
ABOUT THE FAIR
The Northwest Washington Fair will be held Monday, Aug. 11, to Saturday, Aug. 16, at the Northwest Washington Fair and Event Center, 1775 Front St., Lynden.
Gates open 9 a.m. and close 10 p.m. Tickets at the gate are $12 adults, $10 seniors, $7 for youths 6 to 12, and free for children 5 and younger.
Carnival hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Rides are $3 and up, or $30 for an all-day ride wristband.