Smokefree Transportation Chronology

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January 2005

1936 Milwaukee, Wisconsin becomes the first U.S. city to make all forms of public transportation (street cars, buses, etc.) completely smokefree.
1948 Berkeley, California becomes the second U.S. city with 100% smokefree public transit.
1964 U.S. Surgeon General's Report identifies smoking as a cause of increased mortality and as a contributing factor in a host of diseases.
1971 United Airlines becomes the first carrier to offer separate smoking and nonsmoking sections.
1973 The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) - the agency charged with the power to regulate the economic aspect of air transportation and to supervise air carriers as well as their property, property rights, equipment, facilities, and franchises - requires separate smoking and nonsmoking sections on airplanes.
1976 Regulations are passed to restrict smoking on trains to separate cars; and dining cars are made smokefree.
1982 Muse Air (a Texas intrastate airline) opens its doors for business as a smokefree airline.

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) publishes "The Airliner Cabin Environment: Air Quality and Safety." In the publication, NAS reports that the nation's flight attendants were exposed to smoke levels similar to those of a person living with someone smoking a pack a day and recommends a "ban on smoking on all domestic commercial flights…"

A grassroots campaign to eliminate smoking in airlines is initiated with the publication of a front-page story in the Fall issue of ANR UPDATE. Entitled, "Where There's Smoke, There's Fire: Banning Smoking on Airplanes," the article states: "ANR feels it is essential that the federal government quickly implement the proposed ban…"


February - The U.S. Department of Transportation rejects the recommendation of the NAS to make domestic commercial flights smokefree. Secretary Elizabeth Dole states that no new regulations are necessary because the market will accommodate demand.

July - By a vote of 198 to 193, the U.S. House of Representatives passes the Durbin Amendment to the Federal Aviation Act of 1958, making domestic flights of two hours or less smokefree. ANR's swift national grassroots campaign plays a critical role in securing the passage.

September 27th - California Governor George Deukmejian signs S.B. 1067 into law, making all in-state flights, trains, buses and other forms of public transportation 100% smokefree. State Senator Nicolas Petris (D-Oakland) authored the measure after reading about the adverse health effects of passive smoking exposure in the 1986 U.S. Surgeon General's Report.

Southwest Airlines buys out Muse Air and revokes its 100% smokefree policy. Smoking is permitted on Southwest Airline flights, exposing airline employees and passengers to secondhand smoke again.


President Ronald Reagan signs the Federal Aviation Act, with the Durbin Amendment, into law, making domestic flights of two hours of less smokefree. Air Canada and Canadian Airlines International make all their intracontinental flights smokefree.

January 1st - California's law making all in-state commercial travel smokefree takes effect. A 1988 poll conducted for ANR finds that 84 percent of California's smoking and nonsmoking airline passengers approve of the new state law restricting all smoking on intrastate flights; 58 percent of respondents indicate they would fly with an airline they didn't usually fly if it went completely smokefree.

April 23rd - The federal law making all domestic flights of two hours or less smokefree is made effective on April 23rd. The law is designed to sunset in two years.

On the same day, Northwest Airlines goes one step further than the federal law and adopts a company policy making all its domestic flights 100% smokefree.

October - In an open letter, Representative Durbin attributes the smokefree victory to the "strong grassroots support" generated by groups like ANR and states that "hard work on the local level is what led to an unprecedented public health victory in Congress."


June - The American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) releases results of a public attitudes survey about smoking on airlines. The national survey shows that 92.8% of nonsmoking and the majority of smoking (58.1%) airline travelers polled approve of the current smokefree law on flights of two hours or less.

September - The House approves the language of H.R. 160, extending the two-hour smokefree policy beyond two years. The battle shifts to the Senate, where Senator Lautenberg fought for S. 519 to make longer flights smokefree.

October - British Airways makes all domestic flights smokefree.

October 21 - Representative Durbin publishes an acknowledgment piece regarding smokefree flights in the Congressional Record. ANR is thanked for being "particularly active."

November 8 - The Senate gives final approval to a smokefree policy on all domestic and domestic overseas flights, of six hours or less.

November 16 - The House and Senate Conference Committee adopt a "compromise" that makes flights operating within the 50 states and its territories of six hours or less smokefree.

November 21st - President George Bush signs the House and Senates Conference Committee's compromise language into law, making domestic flights of six hours or less smokefree.

1990 Federal law making all domestic airline flights of six hours or less smokefree takes effect on February 25th. The law affects all but 28 of the 16,000 domestic flights in the U.S. Interstate buses also become smokefree.
1992 The International Civil Aviation Organization passes a resolution urging its 152 member countries to go completely smokefree by July 1, 1996.
1993 Amtrak makes most of its trains smokefree, but still maintains "smoking cars."
1995 Delta Airlines goes smokefree worldwide on January 1st.
1997 TWA, United, and American all announce plans to fly smokefree by July 1st. Northwest and Continental remain the only two major United States airlines that do not adopt smokefree policies for international flights.
1998 On March 29th, Air France makes all its trans-Atlantic flights smokefree. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic make all their flights worldwide 100% smokefree by April 1st. The two join a list of other completely smokefree European airlines, including Lufthansa, Er Lingus, Finnair, Icelandair and Scandinavian Airlines.
1999 On October 5th, the Senate passes a Federal Aviation Administration bill, which includes a clause to make all flights to and from the U.S. smokefree.


April 5 - President Clinton signs the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act of the 21st Century into law, making all flights to and from the U.S. smokefree.

June 4 - The Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act becomes effective, making all flights between the U.S. and foreign destinations go 100% smokefree. In a press release issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater says, "Protecting the health of Americans includes ensuring their right to breathe smoke-free air when they travel."