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SLC International Airport exposes travelers to secondhand smoke

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – Salt Lake City International Airport is named in a new CDC survey on secondhand smoke exposure. SLC International is one of five of the 29 largest airports in the United States that allows smoking in designated areas.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – Salt Lake City International Airport is named in a new CDC survey on secondhand smoke exposure. SLC International is one of five of the 29 largest airports in the United States that allows smoking in designated areas.

On any given day inside Terminal A you’ll find a dozen or more smokers getting their fix before they fly. Jacalyn Mathews is one such traveler who’s happy she’s able to have a cigarette between her connecting flights.

“It’s wonderful,” said Mathews. “I don’t understand why they can’t have this at every airport…to go have a cigarette between a flight is impossible.”

Although smoking was banned on flights years ago there's no federal law requiring airports to be smoke-free. Salt Lake, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport, McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas and Denver International continue to allow smoking in restaurants, bars or ventilated smoking rooms.

Officials in Salt Lake say by providing smoking areas the airport is actually preventing people from being exposed to second hand smoke.

Airport Spokesperson Barbara Gann explained, "Our experience has taught us that if we didn't provide a place for them that they'll smoke in the public areas anyways; either in the restrooms, even down the concourses or in front of the terminal where people will be walking through a wall of smokers."

A new report out by the Centers for Disease Control shows ventilated smoking rooms are not effective in eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke. The study showed the average air pollution levels outside the designated smoking areas were five times higher than smoke-free airports and 23 times higher inside the smoking lounges.

We wanted to ask those non-smoking passengers sitting closes to this smoking lounge their thoughts. Surprisingly they said they hadn't even noticed it was there.

Dianne Holscher said, "I didn't notice any smell. Walking up here, I didn't notice."

Brandon Llewellyn said. "I don't smell it at all.”

Dianne and Brandon were sitting just feet from the smoking lounge that’s enclosed by sliding glass doors, but in the airports 4 other smoking lounges there are no doors to keep out the smoke only a separate ventilating system. Gann told ABC 4 News there will be doors on all five smoking lounges by the end of 2012.
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