On February 25, 1990, the “no-smoking” sign was permanently lit on U.S. domestic airline flights – for the health of flight attendants and passengers. This eventually led to smokefree air on all flights to and from the U.S. and to smokefree policies for airlines worldwide.
2015 marks the 25 year anniversary of this important public health achievement – made possible by a broad coalition of health groups, incredible legislative champions – Senator Lautenberg and Senator Durbin (then Rep. Durbin), and tenacious flight attendants who were willing to speak up publicly for their right to breathe.
The tobacco industry along with its frontgroups and allies fought hard to undermine smokefree skies, despite the preventable death and disease to flight attendants. At the time, Big Tobacco opponents said that smoking was just part of the job. If people didn’t want to breathe smoke in their job, they should work somewhere else. Smokefree airplanes would never work. People would stop flying or it would cause air rage.
The amazing thing is not that smokefree airplanes work great and are now taken for granted, but that 25 years later, many people are STILL exposed to secondhand smoke in their workplaces and public places on the ground. In fact, tobacco industry allies say the exact same thing now about casino workers’ exposure to secondhand smoke in their job as was said about flight attendants 25 years ago!