Smoke levels are risky at some airports

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — As you travel through out-of-state airports this holiday season, you may want to make a wide detour around those haze-filled fishbowl smoking lounges.

A new study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found major airports that allow travelers to light up in designated rooms, bars or restaurants had risky levels of second-hand smoke, despite special ventilation systems.

Researchers monitored air pollution measures at five major airports and matched them up against the four smoke-free ones with similar passenger loads.

“Smoking-permitted areas, as well as the areas around them, just aren’t healthy, especially for children,” said CDC epidemiologist and study co-author Brian King. “Travelers and airport workers at the airport are a captive audience.”

The study, which was the CDC’s first comparison of air quality in smoking vs. tobacco-free terminals, bolstered federal public health officials’ earlier position: that the only way to eliminate second-hand smoke dangers at airports is to ban all indoor smoking.

Richard Davis, a Chicago minister who arrived in Fort Lauderdale Tuesday for a holiday visit, thinks that’s a good idea.

“There’s always a chance someone could get sick because of it,” he said, sitting well away from the outside smoking area at Terminal 1. “A little bit of second-hand smoke is still bad.”

At Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, puffing passengers have to be outside and away from the exits.

Hollywood native Ketti Lutz, who was waiting for her parents to pick her up, said she’s a nonsmoker but respects a person’s right to their cigarettes.

“There may be some risk of second-hand smoke, but the smokers should get some consideration, too,” Lutz said.

The CDC found pollution levels were 23 times higher inside smoking lounges and bars than they were in the four smoke-free terminals studied. And the results show that smoking rooms, though completely enclosed and outfitted with ventilation systems, can’t keep a terminal’s air clear, said King, of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health.

Pollution monitors set up outside but adjacent to smoking areas recorded levels five times higher than in the smoke-free terminals, so even non-smokers who never entered those places were at risk, the study authors said.

While efforts to ban smoking on flights began in 1988, there is no federal law requiring the same for airports.

But among the 29 large-hub airports nationwide, only five currently allow smoking indoors.

Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson, the nation’s busiest airport, has 11 smoking rooms and bars — at least one in every concourse.

More in Local News

Firefighters come to the rescue and give mom new stroller

Donations to the Good Neighbor Program covered the $143.20 cost.

To get drug money, Lynnwood man says he cut 911 wires

Those wires happened to be the ones used by 911 dispatchers, but emergency services weren’t affected.

February trial set for suspect in deadly Marysville shooting

There had been questions about Wayne Alpert’s mental health.

Fatal car crash reported on Highway 92 near Lake Stevens

The 3 p.m. accident and investigation stopped traffic in both directions near Machias Road.

Motorcyclist killed in crash had high level of THC

A motorcyclist had more than eight times the legal limit… Continue reading

Police: Driver threatens pedestrian, ends up in drug bust

Meth, cocaine and heroin were found in his car, along with a loaded pistol and cash, police say.

Son arrested for hitting father on head at Marysville home

The father grabbed a metal rod and struck his son in the head, too. Both needed medical treatment.

Ian Terry / The Herald Westbound cars merge from Highway 204 and 20th Street Southeast onto the trestle during the morning commute on Thursday, March 30 in Lake Stevens. Photo taken on 03302017
Pay a toll on US 2 trestle? 10,000 say no on social media

A GOP lawmaker’s chart shows theoretical toll rates of up to $6.30 to cross the trestle one way.

Angel of the Winds pays $3.4M for Everett arena naming rights

The casino replaces Xfinity as the lead sponsor for the prominent downtown Everett events center.

Most Read