PRESS RELEASE: Smokefree Airport Study
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 22, 2004
Contact: Cynthia Hallett, Executive Director
Phone: (510) 841-3045
Web: www.no-smoke.org

From Cabin to Curb: New Study finds Smokefree Air de-planing into Nation's Airports

Berkeley, CA - It was almost 15 years ago when the U.S. Congress decreed all domestic commercial flights to be smokefree. Based on initial findings in the December 24th edition of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), the Center for Disease Control highlights the expansion of smokefree policies from inside the nation's fleet of planes into the airports with the "Survey of Airport Smoking Policies - United States, 2002."

"Less than two decades after flight attendants won their fight for a smokefree workplace, the nation's airports are realizing that all of their employees deserve to breathe smokefree air," notes Cynthia Hallett, Executive Director of the non-profit Americans for Nonsmokers Rights (ANR). "Equally as important, airport managers are finding that ventilation is not an effective option in providing their employees and customers a healthier environment. The most effective and least costly way to protect all employees, patrons, and travelers from exposure to secondhand smoke is a completely smokefree environment."

The study, funded by the Flight Attendants Medical Research Institute (FAMRI) and conducted by Eric Pevzner of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and Ron Davis of the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan, surveyed the policies of more than 200 U.S. airports of various sizes and diverse regions, and found that nearly 61 percent of them were entirely smokefree - with no smoking allowed by anyone, anywhere inside the airport. Larger airports that account for the majority of passenger boardings, however, were less likely than smaller airports to have a smokefree policy in place. Therefore, travelers and employees at the largest and busiest U.S. airports lack adequate protection from secondhand smoke.

Secondhand smoke exposure has been shown to cause lung cancer and heart disease in nonsmoking adults and lower respiratory infections, chronic ear infections, and asthma among children and adolescents. There is no known safe level of secondhand smoke exposure, and evidence suggests that even short-term exposure may increase the risk of experiencing a heart attack. Increased adoption, communication, and enforcement of smokefree policies are needed to protect the health of workers and travelers at U.S. airports.

"It was groundbreaking when the nation's flight attendants fought and won their right to a smokefree workplace," adds Hallett. "This new report can now be seen as a reflection in the overall trend toward smokefree air by local governments and jurisdictions including airports. In the last two years since this survey, Philadelphia International Airport voluntarily went smokefree and all airports in Florida and New York State have gone smokefree as a result of a statewide smokefree law. Clearly, there is more work to be done, but this report demonstrates that smokefree places are in demand and becoming commonplace."

With airports across the country filling for holiday travel, Hallett hopes that more of them will enjoy the benefits of smokefree travel. The list of airports included in the survey can be found at http://www.no-smoke.org/pdf/MMWR-AirportPoliciesList.pdf. Additional smokefree travel information can be found at ANR's website, http://www.no-smoke.org/learnmore.php?dp=d6 .

###

Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights is a national, member-based, not-for-profit organization established in 1976, dedicated to protecting nonsmokers' rights to breathe smokefree air in enclosed public places and workplaces.