Smokers and Non-Smokers can Coexist with Proper Ventilation
The urge to smoke in airports seems to have been stoked by the
generally heightened tension in airports, according to Ira Weinstein
president of Airport Interviewing & Research (AIR), which has
conducted studies on the subject.
While it is difficult to quantify, participants in focus groups
say they are smoking more not necessarily because of additional
dwell time but because they are more nervous in airports these days,
However, in many airports smoking is prohibited completely or confined
to smoking rooms and food/bar facilities. In a few instances, state
legislatures have banned smoking in public places throughout the
entire state (see smoking policy chart). But in airports that permit
it, creating comfortable areas to smoke without impinging on the
air quality of non-smokers, is considered an important customer
service issue. "Our studies have shown, even before 9-11, that
passengers want to have places to smoke in the airport and not in
just glass-walled pens where everyone can see how bad the ventilation
system is," says Weinstein.
U.S. Airport Smoking Policies as of December 2001
1. Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport
- Permitted in 11 smoking lounges throughout the airport and the
international facility. Smoking also permitted in select food
and beverage facilities in concourse A,D, and E.
2. Chicago OHare International Airport
- Permitted only in designated smoking areas outside the terminal;
United Airlines Red Carpet Lounge (Concourse C; AA Admirals Club
3. Los Angeles International Airport
- Prohibited by California legislature throughout the entire state.
4. Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport
- Permitted only in designated smoking areas outside the terminal;
United Airlines Red Carpet Lounge (Concourse C); AA Admirals Club
5. San Francisco International Airport
6. Denver International Airport
- Permitted in Aviators Clubs located in Jeppesen Terminal
and on Concourse B.
7. McCarran International Airport
- Permitted in designated bars/restaurants and in smoking lounges
located throughout the Airport. Two in the rotunda, two in the
C gate area (C-7), two in the D gate area (D-2 and D-31), one
in the B gate area (beyond B-15), one in the A gate area (A-7).
8. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport
9. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
- Permitted in designated areas inside and outside.
10. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport
The issue has prompted some concessionaires to install high-tech
ventilation systems that, in a variety of ways, draw smoking-laden
air out of a facility. The expense is considered worthwhile for
reaching the two-pronged goal of enhancing customer comfort and
encouraging them to stay longer. Importantly, while the investment
in most ventilation systems is significant, the expectation for
higher revenue is immaterial. "We know that when we take a
facility that was smoking and make it non-smoking, sales overall
will decline . . . weve seen that time and time again. When
we take a facility that was non-smoking and put smoking into it,
we see an overall sales increase," says Stan Novack, vice president
concept development for HMSHost. "However, if you have a smoking
facility and upgrade it with a ventilation system, that doesnt
mean you will have an increase in sales. The goal of enhancing air
quality is for customer comfort and to provide a much nicer environment."
"SMOKERS SPEND MORE IF ALLOWED TO SMOKE
(EXCERPT FROM AIR STUDY)
When you go to places such as bars or restaurants in
an airport that allows smoking, do you spend more money,
less money or the same amount of money compared to bars
or restaurants that do not allow smoking?
- As expected, there is a definite correlation between
time spent in a bar or restaurant and the amount of
- Almost half the smokers (46%), both business and
leisure stated they would spend more money in an airport
bar or restaurant that allowed smoking.
- For non-smokers the reverse was true with a majority
(56%) indicating they would spend less money in bars
or restaurants where smoking was allowed.
- Over 40% of both smokers and non-smokers would spend
a similar amount of money in the bar or restaurant
whether or not smoking was allowed.
SMOKERS AND NON-SMOKERS WILL SPEND
|Same Amount of Money
|Same Amount of Money
|*Source: Airport Interviewing
& Research, Inc.
HMSHosts new Auto Raceway concept at Las Vegas (LAS) is a
refurbished food & beverage facility that was, at one time,
an open-enclosed air space overlooking the airports esplanade
area. The company enclosed it with walls and doors and re-engineered
the HVAC system to create a flow that draws in air from the public
area than evacuates it to the outside. Novack says the new system
uses quiet, state-of-the art technology and has been very effective
in eradicating smoky air, a feature earlier systems could not claim.
"We have found that there is no smoke drift outside the facility
and the customer reaction has been very positive; you cant
smell or see it," says Novack.
In another facility at LAS that is not ventilated, HMSHost surveyed
customers about the air quality and found that the air was perceived
as being very smoky. "Its a question of air quality.
Smokers dont like a smoke-fill room either. If there is a
perception from the customer that the air quality is better, I think
it makes them stay longer because overall it is a better experience."
The company is converting several of its other facilities in Concourses
A and B and will be installing the same type of ventilation system.
The cost to install the systems can range from $10,000 to $50,000
depending on several variables including what system exists now,
the size of the space, air movement, the goals of the concessionaire,
etc. "There is no magic bullet because there are a lot of questions
that have to be resolved. You basically have to work out a ventilation
plan based on the specifics of each existing site," says Novack.
Planning for a Ventilation System
One company that facilitates the process from planning to installation
is Phillip Morris through its Options program. It is clearly in
the best interests of the tobacco company to make everyone comfortable
with air quality where there are smokers and the program is designed
to do just that: help business owners and hospitality venues sort
out their individual circumstances and assist them in setting up
a ventilation system that is best suited to their needs.
"The Options initiative is not about addressing the health
affects of second hand smoke." The goal of the program is to
help operators do everything they can to minimize second hand smoke.
"Were being proactive about addressing the issue of air
quality and that is why Options is available to everyone in the
hospitality industry," says Billy Abshaw, manager media programs,
Phillip Morris USA.
In select cases, Options free service will refer an assessment
engineer who will analyze the existing facility and determine which
systems might work best to improve the indoor air quality of that
particular restaurant or bar. Options does not endorse specific
manufacturers of the technology or installers of the equipment but
acts as a referral service for the client as well as serves as an
information bank on the different possibilities. Options also offers
a free hotline service interested parties can call to talk to an
indoor air quality expert. For more information about the Options
initiative click on www.PMOPTIONS.com.
"The concession operator or airport provides blueprints to
the engineer who goes out to the facility and physically looks at
the air flows, takes measurements of what is existing, or if it
is a new facility will assess the new space," says Abshaw.
"Based on that information a written assessment is issued to
the client and two or three choices are provided with cost estimates.
Then it is up to the concessionaire or airport to choose the option
and implement the plan."
Novack of HMS Host says it has used the Options service for a few
of its airport facilities and has been pleased with the support
it received. At Pittsburgh, BAA USA worked through the Options program
to find the right system for three restaurant/bars in the airport:
The Original Oyster House, Fat Tuesdays, and Sam Adams Brewhouse.
The issue arose when BAA received several complaints about smoke
in the eating facilities, according to Cathy Simoni, retail operations
executive for BAA. An assessment was made and an exhaust system
was chosen where an air curtain that forms at the front of the building
forces the smoky air out through a ventilation duct. Fresh air is
then pulled back into the facility. The system runs 24-hours a day
providing constant fresh air, but a timed regulator triggers the
system to use more or less energy depending on the expected traffic
levels, which ensures productive energy usage.
"We were looking for a way that did not recycle the air and
we wanted to keep the smoke out of the concourse to service both
smokers and non-smokers," says Simoni. "This system takes
it right out and the only real expense was cutting a hole in the
roof. Systems that recycle air are a little cheaper but in the long
run, you have to replace them or change filters and it becomes a
A new ventilation system was recently installed in the Original
Oyster House, operated by Joll Enterprises Inc. The system works
with an already installed HVAC system so it was able to be put in
from scratch, according to Mark Pierce, vice president of, the operator
of the Original Oyster House." In the old days you had to have
two separate systems and they were very noisy; they used to sound
like a jet was landing. This system is noiseless and very effective."
Simoni says the installation of new ventilation is not yet a requirement
for all food tenants at PIT, but going forward as restaurants are
remodeled and contracts are redrawn, BAA will definitely look at
Another obstacle for smokers in the new environment of airports
is the difficulty of exiting a secure area for the purpose of a
smoke, then having to go back through a long security line. "If
your airport is one that permits smoking it may be important to
have places before and after security so people dont have
to go back through the security checkpoint," says Abshaw of
"I think a lot of airports are realizing now that there are
fewer non-smoking airports. Our goal is to make sure both smokers
and non-smokers are comfortable, whether in common areas, bars,
or lounges; its a matter of comfort for both.