A PRESS gang of anti-smoking ''ambassadors'' will board outlying ferries next week in a bid to stamp out on-board cigarette-smoking. From Monday until Saturday, 30 students will patrol selected Hongkong Ferry Company vessels where they will plead with confirmed smokers to stub out their cigarettes. They will approach smokers and remind them of the legislative ban as well as the health hazards. They will alert crew members if the smokers refuse to co-operate. The executive director of the Hongkong Council on Smoking and Health, Mr Cheung Che-kwok, said the students would act as a symbol of growing public disapproval of smoking. ''It would create a very healthy image that young people in our society care for their health,'' he said. Hongkong Ferry general manager Mr David Ho Chi-shing said the student ambassadors were a last-ditch effort to educate passengers about the ban on smoking aboard its vessels before the company was forced to step up prosecutions. ''Despite the new law in August, smoking is still common on some sailings and some passengers still insist they have the right to smoke,'' he said. The revised Smoking (Public Health) Ordinance makes it an offence to smoke on public transport, in cinemas, theatres and electronic games centres. The maximum penalty is a $5,000 fine. According to Mr Ho, Hongkong Ferry posted signs prominently to advise its customers of the ban after the new legislation was passed. But after a four-month grace period, the company was preparing to get tough with passengers who refused to heed warnings to put out their cigarettes, he said. ''In December we started sending out office staff to the ferries to confront people who persisted in smoking,'' he said. Since then, the company has taken steps to prosecute two passengers. ''One expatriate on the route to Yung Shue Wan claimed it was his human right to smoke on the ferry and said he was prepared to argue his case with a judge,'' Mr Ho said. Another passenger who refused to comply with requests to stop smoking or to give his personal details was arrested by police when the ferry docked at Peng Chau. Hongkong Ferry executive director Mr Peter Wong Man-kong said the student ambassadors would raise public awareness rather than enforce anti-smoking legislation. The students, aged 14 to 16 years old, were recruited from five secondary schools and will patrol ferries to Lamma, Peng Chau, Mui Wo and Cheung Chau during peak hours. Also as part of the week-long anti-smoking campaign, Hongkong Ferry will hold a smoke-free party on the Harbour Tour Night Club Floating Restaurant on Sunday, February 28. Tickets to the party will be given as a reward to passengers who put out their cigarettes when approached by a student ambassador.