Last updated: 07:00 PM ET, Fri August 14 2015

Activist Groups Push for Smoking Ban at Salt Lake City International Airport

Airlines & Airports | Patrick Clarke | August 14, 2015

Activist Groups Push for Smoking Ban at Salt Lake City International Airport

As public opinion regarding smoking has shifted over the years, the concept of a designated room for smokers at airports has become a polarizing one.

Currently, Salt Lake City International Airport, a busy layover destination, is the battleground for the controversial issue, where anti-smoking groups are pushing to ban smoking, the Associated Press reported.

The airport currently houses five smoking rooms throughout its three terminals and is one of eight of the 35 busiest airports in the U.S. to still allow smoking indoors. 

SLC officials plan to replace the five smoking rooms with two in a main terminal in the near future; however that plan has been met with resistance from anti-smoking activists who fear the rooms are a risk to public health. 

But those on the other side argue smokers are going to smoke, so it's better to supply them with a room where the secondhand smoke can be contained. 

"The bottom line is that smoking is a pretty powerful addiction, and providing a place for smokers to smoke gives us the ability to control it, and that's beneficial for the traveling public in general," airport spokeswoman Bianca Shreeve told the AP, pointing out that a 2013 city study analyzing the air outside of smoking rooms and in remote terminal areas found no difference in pollution levels. 

Utah Tobacco-Free Alliance chairman Scott Barton and other health care providers have already met with Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and airport officials in an effort to drop the two smoking rooms from the airport's renovation plans, but city officials believe the designated spaces "acknowledge the reality that some passengers smoke and the rooms are in the best interest of all travelers," per the AP.

Statistics provided by the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation cited by the AP show that smoking rooms are becoming less and less common at U.S. airports, with more than 600 airports across the country having been deemed smoke-free. 

In addition to SLC, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Denver International Airport, Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport, Miami International Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport and Nashville International Airport still allow travelers to smoke indoors whether in lounges or designated rooms. 

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