ATLANTA >> Atlanta’s city council has approved a far-reaching ban on smoking and vaping in restaurants and bars — and potentially one of the world’s busiest airports.
City council members approved the ban Monday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. It covers cigarettes, cigars and electronic cigarettes. If signed by the mayor, it would take effect on Jan. 2, 2020.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is one of the few major U.S. hubs where people can still smoke inside designated rooms.
Most of the busiest airports in the U.S. ban smoking in all indoor areas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a 2017 report.
Denver International Airport last year closed the last of its indoor smoking lounges and is now smoke-free indoors. Others with total bans on smoking indoors include O’Hare International Airport in Chicago; Los Angeles International Airport; Dallas Fort Worth International Airport; and Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina.
As of Jan. 2, 2019, all but five of the 35 busiest U.S. airports were completely smoke-free indoors, according to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation. Those still allowing smoking in designated places inside included Dulles International Airport near Washington D.C., along with airports in Atlanta; Las Vegas; and Nashville, Tennessee.
In Atlanta, some tobacco and vape stores, private clubs and cigar bars would be exempt from the ban, the Journal-Constitution reported. So it wasn’t immediately clear whether the ban would apply to all of the businesses inside Atlanta’s airport.
Atlanta’s airport will fully comply with the ordinance, and the current smoking rooms inside Atlanta’s airport “will be converted to other spaces,” airport spokesman Andrew Gobeil said in an email to The Associated Press on Tuesday.
In 2016, Atlanta city officials solicited bids for a project to convert nine of the airport smoking rooms into cigar shops. The shops would be designed so that people could smoke cigars and cigarettes inside the shops for an entry fee or minimum purchase price, according to city documents. However, that bidding process was later canceled, the city’s website shows.