Many airports around the globe are smoke-free, much to the chagrin of die-hard smokers, but you can still find that hazy smoke filled room in more than half of the world's busiest airports, you may just have to look a bit harder to locate their whereabouts.
The world's health organizations are consumed with making smoking and second-hand smoke a thing of the past for the healthy benefit of us all. But what about those who choose to indulge in their habit, despite the detrimental health warnings literally shoved down everyone's throats? The World Health Organization has found in a new study that smoking is on the rise again and this time it is in developing countries.
There are approximately 1 billion smokers in the world despite the bans on cigarette smoking in public in numerous countries. Eastern European countries dominate the smoking ladder with Belarus, Macedonia, Russia, Slovenia and Bosnia up there with the best of the puffing populations. China is home to about 300 million smokers and owns the title of being the biggest smokers in the world, with Lebanon running closely behind. No travellers will be surprised that Greece, Croatia, Turkey and Italy have a lot of smoking individuals putting them up in the top smoking countries.
Banning of smoking lounges in airports creates the problem of where do these intrepid individuals go to suck in that nicotine before a flight?
Those airports that still have the dubious luxury of smoking rooms include the likes of some of the world's busiest airports such as Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International, Dubai International, Hong Kong International, Paris’s Charles de Gaulle and Tokyo International. Whilst the Beijing Capital International, Chicago O’Hare, London Heathrow, Los Angeles International and Shanghai Pudong International are smoke-free, with the outside curb being a smoker's haven.
Standing outside on the curb is the usual hangout, giving the non-smoking crowd a good chance that they will have to run the gauntlet of second-hand smoke as they enter the terminal. By forcing the smokers outside, it creates an unnecessary burden on security lines, as those folks may re-enter screening areas several times whilst waiting for their flight. Even the airports that have designated outside areas for smoking appear not to police their non-smoking laws on a strict basis.
The real problem lies in the fact that people are going to continue to smoke if they want to, so where is the best place to put them at airports to protect the angels from second-hand fumes?
If the do-gooders were serious, outdoor smoking at terminals would be banned and more airports would have smoking rooms or secure outdoor terraces, as this would expose less people to second-hand nasty air. Not intending to be totally driven by the dollar, but smoking lounges actually represent a money making venture. Airports could lease them to tobacco companies for exorbitant fees and in turn plough that revenue back into more airport facilities or purely their profit margins.
The world will never be a smoke-free place, as it is too ingrained in some cultures and some people are either addicted beyond help or purely have no wish to give it up.
So what would happen if airports were blanketed with a total smoking ban?
This alternative is not a pretty picture - cranky souls craving a nicotine hit and suffering from withdrawal symptoms may become explosive personalities with little or no tolerance or patience - giving "air" rage a whole new definition. Nicotine deprived people would create havoc on their flights and air stewards would need to be equipped with nicotine patches to hand out when they run out of nuts to satisfy the hunger cravings or alcohol for the depressed. Or, there could be 3 queues for boarding: one for those at the pointy end, one for economy fliers and a third line for the cigarette hungry when upon the sighting of their boarding pass, are handed a couple of valium to settle their nicotine starved induced jitters.
Everyone conveniently forgets in their puffed up moments of indignation that the incidence of automotive exhaust is far worse than a bit of cigarette smoke, so are cars and buses next on the hit-list of airports?