Ferry crew members are being abused by passengers while trying to enforce anti-smoking laws, a major operator says. Hongkong and Yaumati Ferry general manager David Ho Chi-shing said yesterday that despite attempts to crack down on smokers by legal means, lax legislation and ignorant passengers were forcing the company to use health education to stop people lighting up. Mr Ho said that in the most serious incident, a crewman on the Mui Wo service was shoved to the ground after approaching a smoker late last year. 'Some of these passengers ignore requests to stop smoking while others challenge our staff with physical abuse,' he said. 'All we can really do in those situations is call the police but it doesn't stop the smoking problem.' Mr Ho said language was sometimes a problem with expatriates but crewmen were trained to deal with such situations. He said many of those caught were let off lightly by the courts. About 1,490 people were caught smoking on the ferries last year, a fourfold increase over 1993.