The study took place in five big U.S. hub airports. Results showed that levels of air pollution inside smoking areas were 23 times greater than rates in smoke-free airports. Designated smoking areas consisted of restaurants, ventilated smoking rooms, and bars.
Out of the 29 biggest airports in the United States, five offer smoking in designated areas available to the public. These airports include:
- Hartsfield-Atlanta International Airport
- Salt Lake City International Airport
- Denver International Airport
- Washington-Dulles International Airport
- McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas
Tim McAfee, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC's Office on Smoking and Health, says:
"The findings in today's report further confirm that ventilated smoking rooms and designated smoking areas are not effective. Prohibiting smoking in all indoor areas is the only effective way to fully eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke."
A report done in 2010 by the CDC established that the only successful way to get rid of smoking is to adopt policies that ban smoking. An airport is considered smoke-free when smoking is banned in all of its indoor areas, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Despite the smoking ban on all U.S. domestic and international commercial airline flights, achieved through a range of federal laws made effective from 1987 to 2000, there is still no federal policy forcing airports to be smoke-free. According to a 2006 Surgeon General's Report there is no risk-free rate of exposure to secondhand smoke.
Brian King, Ph.D., an epidemiologist with CDC's Office on Smoking and Health and co-author of the report explains:
"Instead of going entirely smoke-free, five airports continue to allow smoking in restaurants, bars or ventilated smoking rooms. However, research shows that separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air and ventilating buildings cannot fully eliminate secondhand smoke exposure. People who spend time in, pass by, clean, or work near these rooms are at risk of exposure to secondhand smoke."
Secondhand smoke can lead to heart disease and lung cancer in adults who don't smoke. It is also a known cause of the following in babies and children:
- sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- respiratory problems
- ear infections
- asthma attacks
Written by Kelly Fitzgerald