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The Clock's Ticking on America's Few Remaining Airport Smoking Lounges

January 16, 2013 at 3:45 PM | by | ()

As we explained when we went over the infuriatingly stupid debate on banning electronic cigarettes on airplanes, there's this famous Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek and he has this kind of infamous theory on anti-smoking campaigns. The main argument is that there's something not quite right with our society, where we're pushing toward more permissiveness and legalization on one hand, but when it comes to smoking cigarettes the trend goes way, way, way the other direction. We pushed smokers into smoking-only sections, then we pushed them outdoors, and now we've even banned outdoor smoking in some places. With the e-cigarettes ban, the suggestion is that even water vapor as a substitute for smoke is too much for people.

In airports, where you can't go outside, the usual practice has been to confine smokers to closed lounges. If Zizek's right, we'd expect to see efforts to ban what remains of those lounges. Hey guess what?

Currently there are five major airports that still have indoor smoking areas, a statistic that hasn't changed since we catalogued them a few years ago. Together they account for about 15% of all domestic air travel. There are apparently very excited anti-smoking activists who want to make sure that none of those 15% can light up on layovers, and wants to get rid of the lounges. The Denver Post - DEN being one of the five airports with lounges - sarcastically reminded readers a few months ago that come on guys, smoking is still legal.

Nonetheless Denver's lounge will be closed when its lease expires in a few years. Prospects aren't looking too good for the other lounges, either. We don't smoke so it's an academic issue to us, and we have to admit there's a certain dumb consistency to the idea: if smoking in a park still produces too much second-hand smoke and has to be banned, then smoking in an enclosed and ventilated room probably does too. Of course... you know?

[Photo: kalleboo / Flickr]

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