Airport Smoking Lounges Are Becoming History
There's no federal requirement for US airports to be smoke-free, but most are taking that decision for themselves.
Noticed more irritable fellow travelers in recent years? Smoking lounges inside US airports are disappearing, reports Bruce Kennedy at MSN. In 2002, only 13 of the nation's largest airports had smoke-free policies. Now, 29 of the nation's 35 major airports have entirely banned smoking indoors, according to the American Nonsmoker's Rights Foundation. While federal law bans smoking on all US domestic and international commercial flights, there's no such requirement for airports. Tobacco companies have jumped on this: According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they've "promoted and paid for separately enclosed and ventilated smoking areas in airports and have opposed efforts to implement smoke-free policies in airports." Tobacco giant Phillip Morris International, for example, agrees with some restrictions on smoking in public places, but argues that "a balance should be struck...between the desire to protect non-smokers, especially minors, from exposure to second hand smoke, and allowing the millions of people who smoke to do so in some public places." The issue is highlighted by the planned closure of the last smoking lounge in Denver International Airport. Currently the only public indoor space in Colorado where smoking is legal, the lounge will shut in 2018 when its lease expires. A Denver Post editorial noted that "Smoking is still legal in this country. Asking smokers to go for hours at a time—longer if there are delays and layovers involved—strikes us as punitive." One commenter on MSN retorts, "It has been 'punitive' for all of us intelligent people to have to smell that garbage for years."