Smokefree Skies Memory Book

Do you have a memory or comment to add to our Smokefree Skies Memory Book? We would love to hear from you. Please send your comment to us at to submit your comment today. Our Smokefree Skies 25th Anniversary page has more information!


I will be forever grateful to ANR for their comprehensive and generous support over decades to help the flight attendants get smoking off of all flights. I started and led the fight to ban smoking in the summer of 1966 when I became a stewardess. I immediately was told by my many of my non-smoking co-workers that their doctors had told them that they had the lungs of smokers. These statements and the gargantuan amount of tobacco smoke on every flight that we were breathing in made it obvious to me that things were dangerous and suffocating in our workplace and that something had to be done about it.

Our flight attendant fight to ban smoking was a long and difficult road that resulted in many sicknesses, diseases, deaths and disabilities for our flight attendants. But on the positive side, our fight also led to the modern day worldwide non-smoking movement.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart ANR for being there and knowing what it was that we were suffering from and for going to great lengths for us and the passengers to help make smoke-free flying.

With much love and admiration,

Patty Young
Former Flight Attendant

For those non-smoking flight attendants who flew before the smoking ban, the cabin conditions were horrific. Indelibly stamped in our minds are images of this intolerable situation...smoke so thick that after the no smoking sign went off you could not see from the aft jump seat to the front of the cabin, fires started from dropped cigarettes, teeth and hair discolored by the smoke and the pungent smell of tobacco smoke in your uniform. Beyond the images, there were the all too frequent respiratory infections, burning eyes, and down line health consequences.

Since the ban 25 years ago we have gotten very used to clean air in those same cabins. What an enormous difference it makes. We are beyond happy about the ban-it is lifesaving. But--we can never take it for granted. All of us, including young people today who may have never experienced this situation must guard this right to clean air to whatever future challenges might come up. We must never have this situation again.

Thanks again for all ANR has done.

Lani Blissard
Former Flight Attendant

In a sentence, it was like working in a chimney!

I began my 37 year flying career with American Airlines in 1970. I clearly remember how the smoke quickly filled the cabin the moment the "no-smoking" sign was turned off, choking off the air supply. As if it weren't bad enough to work in an ashtray, the smoke followed us off the aircraft permeating our uniforms, hair, suitcases....everything. I soon learned to "disrobe" in my garage and leave all my airline items there.

When the joke of the "smoking/no smoking" sections began, coach flight attendant conditions were not much better as the smoking section was in the rear by the galley and jumpseats on most aircraft. I started working First class primarily to be as far away from smoke as possible as the smoking section was in the last row (wafting into the first few rows of coach) but furthest away from the galley and jumpseat.

The planes reeked of smoke...lavs [lavatories], seats, blankets, pillows. When the air-conditioners leaked, brown liquid would run down the walls of the aircraft. And I don't even want to think about what our lungs looked like.

Bobby, a lovely flight attendant we worked with, had premature gray, almost white least at the beginning of a three day trip. By the third day, her hair was brown!

Today, while the airflow on the aircraft is not ideal, it is better, safer and hopefully healthier. I am grateful that smoking has been, continues to and will ALWAYS be OFF the aircraft. As more smoke-free environments are mandated, the health of all consumers is potentially improved.

Kate Jewell
Retired Flight Attendant

My name is Lori Andrews and I have been a flight attendant with American Airlines for 30 years. 27 years ago, I joined ANR in the fight against big tobacco. I spent a week in Washington D.C. with ANR and an amazing group of fellow flight attendants (notably Patty Young) meeting with law-makers and submitting testimony on the effects of 2ndhand smoke on airline personnel. It seemed like an uphill battle, but we triumphed. It will always be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Thank you, ANR, for supporting us on our fight to work in a smokefree environment.


Lori Andrews
Former Flight Attendant

I was on my first international trip on a Pan Am flight from Los Angeles to Munich. Somehow I was in a seat in the last row of the nonsmoking section. As soon as the light went off, the person behind me started smoking. I thought I was going to die! I stood up in the galley most of the flight despite the flight attendants urging me to go back to my seat. I told them I couldn't stand the smoke, and they became very sympathetic. I can't imagine what is what like for them to work in that environment!

Cynthia Hallett

My worst experience was flying in a non-smoking seat FACING a guy in a smoking seat. He was apologetic, shrugged, and said, "Sorry, but I'm in a smoking seat." Blechhhhh!

Judy Hopkins

I am on a US Airways Airbus to SFO today , less than a year old and there is not a cigarette with an X through it. Just took 27 years!

Suzette Janoff

My worst experience is being grounded at JFK for 6 hours! I was in a nonsmoking section, but after 6 hours, you can imagine the entire plane was a smoking section. This was obviously before smokefree skies AND passenger's rights. It was a nightmare.

Stephanie Shedd

For some reason what I remember most from those smoke-filled airplane days was how full the little ash trays on the arm rests would get. Gross!

Char Day

I purchased an ionizer to help avoid the horrid smoke and tried to secure a seat near the front of the plane when smokers were moved to the rear.

I was overjoyed when smoke was banned from planes and eventually even smoking rooms were eliminated from airports.

I will be very happy when casinos also ban smoking as Casino Windson has already done.

Gail Perry

Sometime in the 1980’s, coming home from Belgrade via Yugoslav Airlines, I got seats as far from the smoking section as possible. But directly in front of us was a section for the attendants, who began smoking as soon as we were airborne! I politely told them that I was very allergic to smoke and that I had purposely requested seats as far from smokers as possible. They not so politely told me that they were allowed to smoke there and intended to keep doing so, all the way to the United States. That was our first and last trip to Yugoslavia! (The plane was full – at least in the no-smoking section)

Judith Jacobson

Back in the 1980’s (and before) crying babies and coughing passengers were the norm in airports and as captives on airplanes that allowed smoking. Educating and advocating for smokefree environments these last 30 years has been a long journey. Onward and upward!


As a very frequent flyer the smokefree skies are wonderful. When I would deplane at my destination I would be a basket case. Thank goodness I was a long distance runner. I would change into my running gear and run for 6 – 10 miles to get the tobacco crud out of my body. Thank goodness that I no longer have to do that.

P.S. My best to all you good folks at ANR.

John O.

Evergreen Charter Flight, Written 2006

Both Jay and I are anti-smokers. In former times, when we really had no choice, we tolerated our friends smoking habits in order to enjoy their company, but often the decision to invite someone to come to a restaurant with us might hinge on whether or not they might light up during the meal. Now, we select our eating-places by the fact that the smoking section is isolated from the non-smokers area. Our friends mostly have given up tobacco, some with great difficulty.

Perhaps we should have been more aware of the situation on chartered plane flights when we booked an all-inclusive trip to Jamaica during the 1980’s. We assumed that there would be a seating chart, and we could specify non-smoking seats. We reckoned without Evergreen Airline’s policies.

We arrived on time, but those in the know had arrived early and taken all of the non-smoking seats. Anxious to leave, the stewardess urged us to take any seat, insisting that after takeoff she would exchange seats with other willing passengers. “Many like to take non-smoking seats even if they smoke,” she told us. “Then, when they want to smoke they come to the smoking section. We were agreeable. We should not have been.

The smoking section included seats two abreast down the length of the plane. That meant that those sitting across the aisle would be smokers- not a very realistic arrangement. To make matters worse, no one was willing to exchange seats with us after we were airborne. I couldn’t blame them since the man next to me lit up one of his thin cigars. I would spend that day coughing and tearing for four hours of very uncomfortable existence. I complained but we were trapped on the charter flight.

During our stay in Jamaica, we met several others who had submitted to the circumstances, including two women, somewhat older than we were, who joined us for dinner often during the evenings, grateful for a chance to enjoy their meals without being bothered by smoke. They had been late for the flight and occupied the last two seats in the plane, seats across the back near the restrooms. They hoped for better luck on the way back.

Our week of sun and sand passed quickly. We were bussed to the small airport for our flight home. The tour leader announced that we would occupy the same seats we had on the flight to Jamaica, and we groaned.

Jay stopped her. “We want non-smoking seats.” he said. “We had a very uncomfortable flight to Jamaica, and we don’t want to repeat it.” Her efforts to placate us included free drinks offered for the duration of the flight.

He was adamant. “Find us no-smoking seats.”

She spoke to the captain. The flight was delayed while they talked. Jay joined them and asked for their names. “I intend to take the matter up with the proper authorities.,” he added, when informed that they could do little to help us, although they understood our plight.

The plane took off as we continued to protest. We were in our smoking area seats. The pilot used his loud speaker. “I’m going to extend the non-smoking area to include our non-smoking passengers seats in row 23,”

“That’s helpful, but what about the two women seated in the last row, who have suffered all the way here?” Jay said. The stewardess relayed his message.

Shortly, the pilot came on his speaker with his decision. “ All seats in this plane are now non-smoking seats. During the flight home, you will all refrain from smoking until we land.”

The result was chaos. Non-smokers applauded, which made those who had lit up even angrier than they would normally have been. They booed and groaned, loudly protesting that they would not stop smoking, no matter what the pilot said. Smokers talked about their rights without considering that their smoke might infringe on others’ rights to breathe. Smokers seemed unaware that even across the room, one could smell the odor. Nor did they care! Certainly the man next to me on Evergreen Airlines didn’t care. He lit another of his brown cigarillos and laughed.

“Darned if I’m going to do without for four hours,” he informed me. “I don’t care what that pilot has decided.”

That about sums up the way we were treated during that flight. There were boos. No one near us would speak to us. More than that, I found many who took threatening stances. I was afraid to go to the toilet room for fear someone would trip me on the way.

I don’t really know how the two ladies in back fared. I never got to talk to them. But the tension in the plane was extended even to the stewardess who had to put up with several insults from smokers that I heard. The non-smokers considered us heroes but they weren’t much help.

We felt the need for justice. As members of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). we were aware of our rights. A letter to the organization brought a quick response offering legal services to sue the Evergreen Company. They took up our cause, which resulted in a small settlement of money and an apology from the company. The settlement money we donated to ASH. We will think twice before we sign up for another charter flight.

Ruby Lapin

In the early 70's I was an executive with a corporation in Denver, where I had to fly to Salt Lake City every week.

Every time the aircraft took off, it was only a few feet off the ground and the "SMOKING" sign would go on, and I would start getting sick.

Good thing the flight was only about 1 1/2 hours…then on the way home, it was the same thing ALL OVER AGAIN.

R.L. Armey
South Carolina

Regarding airplanes -- my first flight was to Mexico, mid 1950's and while we sat on the plane, packages of pretty pastel, oval-shaped cigarettes, specifically for the ladies, were handed out. I'd never smoked, I was in my 30's but for the first time I attempted to. I was never curious about smoking, never interested, but due to this "free presentation," I tried -- even buying a package or two -- thank goodness it never took. I believe it's pretty true that if one hasn't smoked by their 20's they likely may never become a smoker.

Annamay Olsen
New York

I remember flying Sabena Airlines to Europe years ago and when we sat down we realized the row behind us was the start of the smoking section because they had this flimsy metal piece that ran on a runner on the wall with a red arrow for smoking section and a green arrow for the non-smoking section that they could slide back and forth depending on the smoker demand for that particular flight and we were right at this little device!

D.J. Wilson
Boston, Massachusetts

I remember a flight in which rows 8-15 were smoking and rows 16-28 were non-smoking. I was in row 16 which was right behind row 15 and the last row in the middle compartment of the plane. As you might imagine the smoke from rows 8-15 didn't know how to stay out of row 16. Yuck!

Mark Glickstein

For the record my wife and I were on a flight from Boston to Colombia and back in 1980 while I was a resident in family practice in MA. During both the flight down and the flight back my wife and I were refused non-smoking seats. I was asked to file a complaint with the CAB and as a result and because I was working with Doctors Ought to Care, I became the expert medical witness in the federal lawsuit which took around 4 years to settle out (I had already moved in 1981 to Santa Fe). Although the law passed in the mid-80s it did not take effect until, I believe, 1990. So for years I have “bragged” that I helped change the law. The subsequent lawsuits by flight attendants sealed the deal.

Chris Fletcher MD

I remember being on many smoke-filled flights prior to February 25, 1990, where the entire passenger area of the cabin, seating several hundred men, women, and children, was entirely fogged in a blue-gray smoky haze due to the smokers puffing away on board. It made it hard for me to breathe, stung my eyes, stunk up my hair, clothes and personal items, and clogged the seat armrest ashtrays with dirty cigarette butts and ashes. The cabin bathrooms were clouded in smoke, and discarded snubbed out cigarette butts littered the bathroom floors, sinks, and toilets. The on-board, encapsulated environment was very unhealthy, dirty, and disgusting thanks in part to the smokers. Moreover, despite designated smoking and nonsmoking areas inside the planes, the smoke did not and could not stay contained to only the smokers’ areas of the plane. Everyone on the plane was subjected to second tobacco smoke regardless of their needs or preferences.

I enjoy flying so much more today, as opposed to flying before February 25, 1990, because of the smokefree air travel today. I don't have to worry about smelling like an ashtray once I deplane and I don't fear having a wheezing attack due to smoke irritating my lungs. My eyes are no longer tearing up and my throat isn't sore because I'm not being shrouded in a cloud of smoke for several hours or more on a plane. I don't have to
worry that I'll be arbitrarily seated next to a smoker who lights up constantly during the flight.


Susan Arday
Laurel, Maryland

Towards the end of 2003, my wife and I won a trip to NYC. Had the city not have just passed a law to prohibit toxic tobacco smoke in all public places and workplaces, we would not have gone.

Had the airlines not been smoke-free, we COULD not have gone.

Thanks to Patty Young and everyone else that got lethal tobacco smoke off and out of the airlines! Now, we must get this mother of all chemical weapons out of the few airports that still allow it.

David Fusco
Arlington, Texas

1. It's 1963 and we just left Ireland's Shannon Airport not too many minutes ago when the captain announces a problem with the landing gear and says we're going to dump fuel then land at the nearest airfield. We can smell the gas fumes and each other's fear; the nonsmoking lights are, of course, turned on. Suddenly a man in the seat right in front of us starts to light a cigarette. My friend, who barely speaks a word of English, bellows in his heavy accent, "NO SMOKING!"

2. I am seated in the "nonsmoking" section, which ends with my row; every person immediately behind me has the prerogative to smoke. Many exercise it.

3. I'm on a nonsmoking flight. I keep getting the telltale sensations in my nasal passages and throat of nearby tobacco smoke and even begin to smell it but can't see anyone smoking. Then I realize it's coming thought the vent and must be originating in the captain's cabin. I call the flight attendant (still called stewardess), and she says I'm wrong, then allows there's nothing to be done about it anyway, that the smoking prohibition doesn't apply to the pilots.

Serena Bardell

I remember when...smoking was allowed on airplanes. Designated smoking areas were ridiculous, as a cabin is a cabin and we were all breathing the same re-circulated air.

Fifteen years ago my daughter was born. I couldn't imagine taking her on a flight that allowed smoking--what a terrible environment to subject a newborn to!

Living in Hawaii, we don't have many alternative modes of transportation, other than flying.

So, thanks, ANR, for persevering and for making domestic flights smokefree!


Sandra McGuinness
Makawao, Hawaii

I was hired by Pan American as an "international Japanese speaking stewardess” and…started flying half way around the world from Honolulu, to Tokyo, Hong Kong, Bangkok, New Delhi, Tehran, and Istanbul & back. The jumbo jet, the 747, was introduced back then, and over 400 passengers were herded across the oceans in a new age of jet travel.

Throughout the seventies, the jumbo jet was divided into smoking & non-smoking sections. On flights from Asia, the smoking section was usually 2 of the 3 economy cabins and back rows of first class cabin which meant at least 2/3 or almost 300 people were smoking at any given time. It's interesting how social norms & attitudes were different back then because we took smoking pretty much for granted and were very accommodating to the Japanese, in particular, who were heavy smokers. The biggest problem on those flights was that the Japanese passengers complained that they were seated in a non-smoking section and wanted to be moved to a smoking section. We had to allow them to smoke, sometimes standing, in the very back to accommodate their wishes.

If you can imagine this, working for five to 15 hours non-stop in a contained capsule filled with cigarette smoke, where the entire cabin looked like fog. That's how I remember the very aft section of the 747 looking like where you could hardly see through the thickness of the smog. I remember holding my breath while working in these cabin & dreading it.

At the beginning, it was okay, but I noticed that my allergies got worse and worse where I had a perpetually runny and stuffy nose and had to be medicated every day. I had chronic allergic rhinitis and always felt pretty miserable, even on land. I remember the nonstop 14-hour flights from New York to Tokyo when I arrived in Tokyo, I thought I was having congestive failure as my lungs were so tight and constricted that I could hardly breathe and had to see a doctor. Several times, I asked the Captain if I could sit in the cockpit and inhale fresh oxygen, just to clear up my lungs and head!

Even with all these experiences, it never really crossed my mind that tobacco was causing me to feel sick and become sickly. I just hated the smoking and came home every trip with stinky hair and clothes. If I had to calculate the number of hours that I had to inhale second hand smoke, I would say I smoked at least 10 packs a month.

Today, thanks to the political actions of many conscientious citizens and groups, including flight attendant organizations, flights have been smoke-free. Our children do not know how it feels to sit in a smoke-filled capsule and our working crew no longer have to deal with it.


Anna Mayeda
Wailuku, Hawaii

I was traveling overseas to join the Peace Corps. On our transatlantic flight, we were given seats in the smoking section of the airplane. The problem was that many of the people in the non-smoking section of the airplane kept coming back to smoke. They would stand in front of us, smoke, blow smoke on us and then go back up front when they had finished. We had no choice in the matter. It was a very long flight.


Linda Lang
Billings, Montana


In 1985 I flew to Europe on Icelandic Air. The air was blue with smoke for eight hours. It was worse than awful. I was sick for the first two days of the trip. I sure wasn't looking forward to the 8-hour trip back! Ghastly!

Today's air travel without the smoke is great. No one would think to smoke on a plane today...and no one would put up with it.

Congratulations ANR for promoting smokefree air travel and smokefree air for everyone.

Thank you!


George Sedlacek
Negaunee, Michigan

I remember burning, itching eyes and throat at the end of every flight. I smelled like everyone else, so it was only when I got to my final destination that I noticed the foul smell in my things.

How do you feel about smokefree air travel today? I love breathing easy.


Percy Brown
Tulsa, Oklahoma

I began working at TWA in 1978 as a Ramp Serviceman. Cleaning the airplane, loading baggage, securing the vehicles. The break room was filled with smoke, as we cleaned the plane some would smoke, you could walk through the airport with a lit cigarette.

This was the norm and no one dare say anything.

The truth is we didn't know the true dangers of tobacco smoke. The clouds of tobacco industry lies were so thick that the truth, if it were out there, could not be seen through smoke.

As an employee, I had the opportunity of flying many places, and whether it was a 30 min. or 5-hour flight, as soon as the “no smoking” light went out, the light from the cigarette lighters illuminated the cabin.

The interesting thing was no one gave this act a second thought. How times have changed. Today if a person is near me outside I will either move away, ask them to move, or not to light up. My children have grown up in a relatively smoke-free environment and can tell you many of the hazards of tobacco smoke.

Our lives have changed for the better and we are all healthier for it. Today travel is marvelous. We travel from coast to coast and with few exceptions we are living out side to the tobacco industries smoke.


Gregory Bolden
Atlanta, Georgia

In 1989, my husband and I traveled to Tel Aviv aboard an airbus airplane. Smoking was allowed on the plane and it was horrible! The whole airplane stunk. At one point the pilots had to ask all of the smokers to put out their smokes to let the air clear for the rest of us that were choking to death.

I thank God that smoking is no longer allowed on airplanes because I have nowhere else to go when I am aboard.


Shelley May
Houston, Texas

I remember when...people were still smoking on flights. It would be like a gray cloud of ugliness had surrounded you. It would take away all of the clean air which made it hard to breath!

Now, it is great to be able to breath in air with out tobacco smoke! Travel on smokefree flights and landing in smoke-free airports should be the norm. Let's make all public places smoke-free!

Everyone one needs to celebrate this 15-year Anniversary!


Marsha Morrison
Washington, Pennsylvania

I remember when...there was unlimited smoking on planes and I was seated next to a chain smoker for a 3-4 hour flight. I also remember when the smoking section used to be in the front of the plane, so that all the smoke drifted back into the "nonsmoking" section. Worse yet, sometimes the "nonsmoking" section was sandwiched between two smoking sections. And I remember when you had to get to the airport extra early to make sure you got a seat in the "nonsmoking" section, which some airlines would not expand to meet customer requests.

What do you remember about smoke-filled flights?

Being unable to breathe, feeling rotten, and wishing I were almost anywhere else.

How do you feel about smokefree air travel today?

It's the only way to fly!!


Peter Hanauer
Berkeley, California

When I was 10 years old, I flew across the country with my grandmother, who smoked the entire flight. I sat there with my t-shirt collar pulled up over my nose, miserable. It was the first time in my life that I was trapped breathing secondhand smoke. Because of that experience, I was never tempted to try smoking, and it is probably what prompted me to become an anti-tobacco advocate. Now, it's hard to believe that was the "norm." Thank you to ANR and all the activists who gave us smokefree flights and who continue to fight for smokefree air.


Kylie Meiner
Portland, Oregon

I am so glad flying is smoke free! As a "white knuckle" flier anyway, I would absolutely hate to be sickened by secondhand smoke and smell like an ashtray upon arrival at my destination. I look forward to the day Iowa is totally smokefree like the airport!


Marilyn Smith
Knoxville, Iowa

I remember when the smoke was so thick on a flight from Durham through Chicago to Wichita, Kansas that it made me sick. I was pregnant at the time, and the smoke made me so nauseated that I had to sit on the floor of the plane and rest my head on the seat.

I remember a flight when a co-passenger beside me was smoking a cigarette and dropped an ash on me and burned a hole in my skirt.

I remember one domestic flight in which I shared my son's asthma inhaler with three other people. From then on, we carried an extra inhaler for people who had difficulty due to the accumulation of in-flight cigarette smoke.

I remember arriving home after a long flight, anxious to see my family. My sons gave me hugs and kisses, but pushed away quickly stating "you stink, mommy."



Carol Johnson
Wichita, Kansas

I used to take trans-pacific flights and the airline designated smoking sections in the back of each section, ensuring that non-smokers would be engulfed continually. Also, the seats behind you could be designated the start of the smoking section and you could sit inhaling fumes for 10 hours.

It was awful, and no one seemed to realize how awful it was.


Joel Bergsma
San Diego, California

I remember when...flying was an ordeal, simply from breathing.


Darrell Jones
Eugene, Oregon

I remember that smoke didn't know to stay in the Smoking Section on airplanes. But it was especially thick in the Smoking Section. I remember writing a letter to an airline complaining that I was given a seat in the Smoking Section without being told that the Non-Smoking Section was not available.

I also remember that many smokers would choose a seat in the Non-Smoking area, where they would be for most of the flight. But then to smoke they would go back and sit in the Smoking area. (In those days, planes were not as crowded as they are now.)


Julia Lee
Long Beach, California

I remember (as a flight attendant) when we hung our uniform jackets in a separate closet so our other clothes wouldn't smell of the stale tobacco smoke from working our flights. Back then, we thought it was just an inconvenience. Now I know the price I pay every day for my years of working in and inhaling other people's smoke.

First it was a smoker's throat cancer, even though I have yet to have my first cigarette. Later, it was a clogged carotid artery,(90%clogged with plaque breaking off and being swept into my brain, another tobacco damage a lot of people are not even aware of, I wasn't). I was a walking stroke just waiting to be set off and avoiding trapped indoor smoke may have kept that final block from becoming my epitaph.

If we could get the smoke out of our planes 15 years ago, (where you can't just step outside to catch a quick smoke) why haven't we done it long ago on the ground?

Why? Because if you sell liquor, you can't afford to alienate your high profit customer, the smoker. Think about it, we sold almost all of our liquor in the smoking sections. And liquor is high profit, low spoilage. It was the non-smoking restaurant owners and managers who told me that they couldn't afford to fix this problem; it was up to us to make it required by law. Then they would happily get rid of the smoke that they also hated working in.

Just like the glasses and silverware in our restaurants, the air must be required to be clean enough to not needlessly spread diseases from one customer to another. Until then, it isn't cost effective. The damage walks out the door, silently hidden inside the bodies of workers and customers so it isn't their concern until we make it their concern.

Let's limit the damage to just the smokers. And let's start making smokers start picking the real price of their bad habits, instead of the rest of us.


Kathie Cheney
Peachtree City, Georgia

When I was a little girl we flew to Florida in the winter to visit family. We always asked for the no-smoking section, but that often meant sitting one row in front of smokers. I have asthma and every flight was difficult for me and potentially life threatening.

Today when I fly I can enjoy the experience, read, relax, even nap, without wondering if I will have an asthma attack at 30,000 feet with no access to medical services. I am so thankful to those who fought for smoke-free skies! Thank you!


AJ Mitchell
Cedar Park, Texas

I remember when...I used to travel a lot for business, and averaged over 50,000 miles a year. I would return from trips and nearly always ended up with a sinus infection that would incapacitate me for a week or more.

Since the skies went smoke free, I have never had that problem. I no longer dread my trips.

I did work for a major airline in the area of safety. One of their maintenance folks told me that there was a downside to stopping smoking in the airplanes. He told me that the way they typically found small "pin sized" holes in the skin of the aircraft was to look for the brown streaks that would stain the white paint, as the smoke would escape the pressurized cabin.


Peter Golombek
Visalia, California

I remember when...I was so afraid to fly because I was risking a trip to the hospital to fly anywhere. (What if I had an asthma attack and couldn't breathe "up there"?) I was always sick after flying and could hardly enjoy a trip. People around you just thought you were a complainer and did not take the problem you had seriously, so you might be laughed at, as you struggled to
maintain your air.

How do you feel about smokefree air travel today? Ventilation is not perfect, but I look forward to flying and have flown much more. I feel safe in knowing that no one will light up around me, and the smoke from the far end will not ruin the air of the whole plane.


Doris Robbins
Fairbanks, Alaska

I can't imagine being stuck on an airplane for several hours with air filled with smoke. Thank goodness the airlines led the way in clean indoor air.


MaryTherese MacConnell
Boise, Idaho

What's surprising is that it's ONLY been 15 years.


Louis Rugani
Kenosha, Wisconsin

When I was 16, I flew from L.A. to New York to see my mom and had to sit in the smoking section of the plane. I wouldn't fly if they still allowed smoking.


Caryn Donoho
Xenia, Ohio

I remember when flying on an airplane was absolutely disgusting. Even if you sat in the "no smoking" section, the air circulated and got really bad very quickly. But then we started flying to New Zealand every couple of years and the direct international flights still allowed smoking! UGH. So what we had to do was take flights that hopped along and landed two or three places along the way. But we did it to avoid flying in a smoky airplane. Thank goodness now all flights, international or domestic, are smoke free.

Thank you so much for your part in this victory.


Marney Bruce
Bethesda, Maryland

I remember when I had just graduated from high school in 1971 and was on my very first flight. It was so exciting to fly to the east coast from Michigan to visit my older sister. The biggest downer was how smoky and stinky the airports and planes were.

Since that time, I've flown many times and am so grateful to the flight attendants and others who fought a tough battle to protect the cabin air in planes. It's made a huge difference and now I always look forward to flying.


Susan Dusseau
Midland, Michigan

In June 1985 I was on a chartered flight with American urologists on the Czechoslovakian Airlines with 2 seats separated by an aisle. The attendant said, "Smoking is allowed on the right side, but not on the left". She did not understand why everyone laughed.


Wilfred Potter
Scottsdale, Arizona

I remember when...I sat between two smokers in the back of the plane. They felt so sorry for me since I was coughing (I have asthma) that they considerately held their burning cigarettes away from me with arms extended. They really thought that made a difference in the amount of smoke I had to inhale as they chain-smoked through a three-hour cross-country flight.


Elizabeth Emerson
San Rafael, California

I remember husband traveled to Israel and I couldn't go with him because of the tobacco smoke on the plane. I remember flying to Paris to celebrate with my husband our 50th birthdays. My brain didn't work well for weeks after our return.

What do you remember about smoke-filled flights?
The absolute silliness of a non-smoking section on an airplane. On one flight, some people were smoking in the non-smoking section. My teenage son (who has asthma) asked them to move to the smoking section. It was so futile.

There are still too many airports that allow smoking. When you call the airport for information about their smoking policies, you can never get anyone who will admit that they know what you are talking about. I am so grateful when I travel by air and don't encounter tobacco smoke.

Esther Schiller
Newbury Park, CA

I actually don't "remember when" because the first time I flew was at the age of 15 in 1993, so to me, airplane flights have always been smoke-free.

I now work in tobacco control and often share this story with youth groups as an illustration of social norm change. For my generation and generations younger than me, the thought of seeing someone light up on a plane seems foreign. In fact, seeing the "no smoking" signs on planes does too. But I think the success of smoke-free airplanes illustrates the power of norm change over time!


Brittany McFadden
St. Paul, Minnesota

I remember were asked if you wanted smoking or non- smoking seating, much like the situation that existed here in Florida prior to our approval of a constitutional amendment to prevent smoking in work places, which includes restaurants. I'm sure it was a hassle for the flight attendants of the time to keep ashtrays clean. The non-smokers' rights were violated every minute of the flights of the time. I'm glad we've come a long way with our efforts. Our job will be done when every flight, every public establishment, and all public transit is smoke-free.


Seth Goodman
Daytona Beach, Florida

It's such a pleasure to travel in smoke-free airplanes. Even though one tried to get as far away from the smoking section of planes in the old days, one was still inundated with horrible SHS exposure.

I can't possibly imagine living without smoke-free flights!! Here and abroad!


Joanne Wellman-Benson
Sacramento, California

I remember when...I flew in 1978 from Sydney, Australia to New Zealand and was seated in the back of the plane with all these World War II veterans who had been celebrating in Sydney all week. I was seated in the center of the plane with two people on each side and everyone seemed to be smoking cigarettes and cigars. IT WAS AWFUL. I finally got up and stood in the back of the plane for over an hour just trying to clear my lungs.

Also, I recall flying Air Canada in the early 80's and the smoking section was on the left side of the plane and non-smoking was on the right side. What a joke that was. I wrote a letter to Air Canada and soon after, they changed their policy.


Jamey Aebersold
New Albany, Indiana

I remember taking a trip to California from New York 20 years ago. I was unfortunately seated in the row just in front of the smoking section. By the time we got there I could barely breathe and my clothes reeked of smoke.

We have come such a long way in 15 years. Thanks to the laws that have been passed over the years, we can now eat, drink, work and play in a smoke free environment. I love smoke free New York!


Marianne Zacharia
East Northport, New York

I remember when I flew Kuwait Airways & realized the smoking and non-smoking sections were 1 row apart with not even a token partition. I never appreciated what we had in America until then.

I never do this kind of thing but I have become passionate about non-smoker's rights and applaud ANR for all its efforts. As a New Yorker it is a pleasure being in a city that is so pro Non-Smoker. I hope we can all get there.


Manish Joseph
New York, New York

I remember how angry I was. After flying for 3 hours I got off the plane in Minneapolis and went to find the smoking area. To my surprise they directed me to what seemed miles to an outside entrance to the terminal. After getting outside it was so cold I could hardly inhale!

This March 3 I will be celebrating 10 years of being free from the addition to smoking. I believe that smokefree laws motivated me to become a non-smoker and for that I am forever grateful!

It is a joy flying today in a smokefree environment.


Shirley Greene
Moscow, Idaho

I remember not being able to breathe and having to leave my clothes on the clothesline for DAYS to get the smell out!

How do you feel about smokefree air travel today?

I love it. It almost seems odd to see a group of people smoking at all such as in the smoking rooms. It seems so "out of style" to smoke now.


Jo Stanley
Beaumont, Texas

I am so thankful that flights are now smoke-free. I remember when there was a "smoking section" on airplanes, usually at the back. Of course, no matter where you sat you still breathed plenty of smoke. I have asthma and flying is stressful enough without the added stress of smoke-filled air. Flying is a much more pleasant experience now and I hope the smoking ban will eventually be implemented in all public places.


Julie Holdeman
Elkhart, Indiana

I remember when... traveling on airlines was a feared and dreaded experience - smoke filled cabins that made my eyes burn and water, filled my lungs with the taste of tobacco, saturated my clothes with the smell of smoke, and penetrated my hair with stale tobacco smell. In addition to the smells, physical assault, and health risks, it took a couple of hours to feel slightly normal again, and detoxify from the experience.

This situation does not bring too mind "the good old day." In this case, it must be said, thank goodness for smokefree airlines that reduce risks and make flying less risky!


Marilyn Aguirre-Molina
New York, New York