airport smoking

Smoking still allowed at most of world’s busiest airports

According to a newly released report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at many of the world’s busiest airports travelers continue to be explosed to second-hand cigarette smoke, which the Surgeon General has declared a health risk at any level of exposure.

The report, published this week, found that as of August 2017 more than half (27) of the world’s 50 busiest airport still allow smoking in certain areas, while 23 (46 percent) were smoke-free.

Among the 10 busiest airports in the world, the report found that half still allow smoking in certain indoor areas: Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International, Dubai International, Hong Kong International, Paris’s Charles de Gaulle, and Tokyo International.

Beijing Capital International, Chicago O’Hare, London Heathrow, Los Angeles International and Shanghai Pudong International, also among the top 10 busiest airports, are smoke-free.

Among North American airports on the list of the 50 busiest, the CDC report found that 14 of 18 had a smoke-free policy, but that Atlanta, Denver, McCarran International in Las Vegas and Mexico City International airports still permit smoking in some areas. (Washington-Dulles, a busy hub, but not among the 50 world’s busiest airports, also has smoking areas.)

Denver International, the report notes, closed three of its four smoking indoor smoking rooms in the past few years and is scheduled to snuff out the final one in 2018 when its lease expires. And while it is not among the 50 world’s busiest airports, the report mentions that Salt Lake City International, a large-hub U.S. airport, also recently implemented a smoke-free policy.

But while Beijing Capital International Airport, the world’s second busiest airport, is smoke-free, “Sadly, Las Vegas, Dulles and Atlanta have not budged on going smoke-free,” said Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights.

Officials at Atlanta International, the world’s busiest airport, say they are well aware of the calls to create a smoke-free environment at the airport, but have no plans to close their smoking areas.

“Creating a smoke-free policy would force smokers to find locations throughout the airport to light up and expose other guests to secondhand smoke,” said ATL spokesperson Andrew Gobeil, “And smokers might move outside the terminal and create an additional burden on security lines as those passengers re-enter screening areas.”

Inconvenience aside, “Millions of people who travel through and work in airports that allow smoking are unnecessarily exposed to secondhand smoke,” said U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, “Smoke-free airports can protect people from this preventable health risk.”

My story about smoking at airports first appeared in a slightly different form on USATODAY’s Today in the Sky.


Denver International Airport going smoke-free

George Eastman House, via Flickr Commons

According to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, indoor smoking is completely banned at 27 of the top 35 U.S. airports.

Make that 28. Well, almost.

Denver International Airport (DIA), which currently has four indoor smoking lounges, announced Friday that three of those smoking areas will be shutting down.

According to a statement from the airport, two concessionaires, Airport Lounges and Quiz-DIA, have agreed to close the three smoking lounges they currently operate by the end of the year. The fourth lounge, Timberline, operated by Smokin’ Bear, LLC, will shut down after its lease expires in 2018.

Two Aviator’s Lounges will close this year: the one in Jeppesen Terminal and the one on the B Concourse. The Jeppesen Terminal lounge will become a Jamba Juice and the B Concourse lounge will re-open as a barbecue restaurant called the Aviator’s Sports Bar.

The third lounge to be closed is inside the Mesa Verde Restaurant and Bar on the A Concourse. Mesa Verde will be remodeled to offer extra seating.

The fourth indoor smoking lounge – inside Timberline Steaks & Grill on Concourse C – will stay open until 2018.

After that: no smoking at Denver International Airport.

Here’s a link to a (long) list of other U.S. airports that ban smoking.

What do you think: should ALL airports ban smoking?



Hold On to Your Butt Day at San Diego International Airport

San Diego International Airport (SAN) is one of the many airports around the country where there’s no smoking allowed inside the terminals.


So passengers have to go outside the terminals to light up. And when they’re done, many of those smokers throw their butts on the ground.

It’s not just airports: according to folks at the Surfrider Foundation,  cigarette butts are the most littered item around the world.

So in San Diego this Saturday, November 14th, 2009, from 10 am until noon, groups of people will show up at several busy San Diego intersections – and at the San Diego International Airport – to hand out ashtrays and ask people to clean up their butts.

It’s all part of “Hold Onto your Butt” Awareness Day.