Legislators advance bill nixing airport smoke rooms

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A bill that would prohibit smoking lounges in the Salt Lake City airport has received unanimous approval by a Senate committee.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee’s four members voted on Friday to send the legislation to the full Senate, the Salt Lake Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/20dPWVO).

Salt Lake City International Airport provides five smoking rooms for passengers.

Health groups spoke in favor while no one voiced opposition. Airport officials have said the rooms are ventilated with a system that pumps smoke outside, and allows passengers to avoid another trip through the security line if they want to light up.

Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, says the airport is among only seven of similar size in the country that allow indoor smoking. He says he often smells smoke at the Salt Lake airport, and that airlines support the measure.

“They recognize that the traveling public is used to that, especially with all the busy airports that do not allow it,” Vickers said.

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.”

Three smoke lounges had been part of a major $1.8 billion renovation and new terminal construction taking place over the next few years.

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.

Denver and Dallas-Ft. Worth are phasing smoke areas out.

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Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com

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