Lambert Aiport in St. Louis plans to be smoke-free by 2011
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay envisions an airport in his city free of cigarette smoke and healthy lungs when the new smoking ban goes into effect in January 2011. Unfortunately Lambert-St. Louis International Airport is located in St. Louis country and their smoking ban, which goes into effect around the same time, exempts smoking lounges from the rules.
The mayor has stated that although the airport is in the county of St. Louis, the city owns the property and has a right to enforce the strict no-smoking ban once it becomes law in little over a year. St. Louis County Counselor Patricia Redington disagrees and states that it has been made clear that the smoking-ban will in fact exempt lounges.
The airport currently has nine smoking lounges that were put into place back in 1997. Redington stated that if the city decides to ticket smokers in the lounge, that it will have to be taken care of between both parties and that the county will not get involved.
Anti-smoking activists have been trying to get rid of the dirty air inside of Lambert for over 15 years. Currently about 150 airports enforce a no-smoking ban throughout the United States. The Airport Director Richard Hrabko argued that the airport spent “several hundred thousand dollars to build and maintain 9 smoking lounges for the use of our passengers and employees. These units have sophisticated ventilation systems and capture virtually 100% of the secondhand smoke.”
Hrabko believes the elimination of the lounges will force smokers to stand outside the airport and will be an annoyance to non-smokers. Both Slay and Hrabko said they plan to talk and discuss a way to address this issue.