SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah senator plans to introduce a bill in the upcoming legislative session that would outlaw smoking lounges in the Salt Lake City airport.
Sen. Evan Vickers, a Republican from Cedar City who is also a pharmacist, said he often smells smoke in the airport. The lounges "seem not to work as well as they like," Vickers told The Salt Lake Tribune (http://bit.ly/1P4t4CE).
The Salt Lake City International Airport is equipped with five smoking lounges, which have been outfitted with ventilation systems designed to filter smoke outside the building.
Airport spokeswoman Nancy Volmer says these spaces help reduce the number of people smoking at airport entrances and thus visitors' intake of secondhand smoke. She says they also contribute to shorter security lines since smokers don't have to go outside.
The airport is already planning to scrap three of the lounges as part of a major $1.8 billion renovation taking place over the next few years.
The American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation said the airport is one of only eight major airports in the country that still permits smoking indoors. The others are: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport; Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport; Denver International Airport; McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas; Miami International Airport; Washington Dulles International Airport; and Nashville International Airport.
Scott Barton, the chairman of the Utah Tobacco-Free Alliance, said that research shows more airports are moving away from smoking spaces. More than 600 U.S. airports, including ones in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, are smoke-free.
In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that airport smoking rooms are not effective in eliminating secondhand smoke.
Utah does not allow indoor smoking in any other public buildings besides hotel rooms, said Brook Carlisle, government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski supports the bill.
"Salt Lake City is an anomaly, as far as allowing smoking in the airport," said the mayor's spokesman Matthew Rojas. "It's not something that is necessary for the airport."
The bill is also supported by the American Cancer Society. The legislative session will begin on January 25.