ANR UPDATE, 35(4), Winter 2016
A Little Backroom Atlanta History
Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL) used to be smokefree. But tobacco giant Philip Morris wanted to showcase its "Accommodation Program" during the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics - as part of its global strategy to enable cigarette use inside public venues like airports, restaurants, and casinos. Formerly secret company documents prove that Philip Morris lobbied the city of Atlanta via one of its front groups (ironically named Healthy Buildings International) to allow smoking in the airport. The city agreed and the smoking rooms that currently dot the airport were installed.
Some Backward Thinking
Now, 20 years later, almost all U.S. airports are smokefree indoors, and some are smokefree outdoors, too. But the Atlanta airport is going backwards and EXPANDING indoor smoking areas by adding cigar bars, hookah lounges, and other smoking areas - that means even more people will be exposed to smoke in their job or travels. The airport even wants smoking to become a revenue generator for the airport and plans to charge an entrance fee. Enough is enough!
The passengers and staff in the country's busiest airport deserve the right to breathe smokefree air. Even if airport smoking areas and rooms have ventilation systems, they do not stop the smoke from spreading throughout the airport, nor do they address the health hazards of secondhand smoke in any way. Furthermore, camouflaging these toxic spaces as classy lounges and charging high-priced admission will do nothing to protect anyone from the dangers of secondhand smoke. The Atlanta airport should not dress up the toxic air - it should eliminate it.
It's time for the Atlanta Airport to get out from under the thumb of Big Tobacco. Let the Airport know you support a 100% smokefree ATL for the health and safety of all passengers and staff.
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