Atlanta International Airport stubbing out its smoking lounges
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
When the New Year arrives, it will bring cleaner air to the world’s busiest airport.
And that will put some travelers on edge.
At midnight Jan. 1, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) will officially close all its smoking areas to comply with an enhanced city-wide ordinance banning smoking and vaping inside bars, restaurants and enclosed spaces.
For years, there have been about a dozen places throughout ATL’s sprawling terminals where travelers can light up. The list includes smoking lounges funded by the Philip Morris cigarette company in advance of the 1996 Summer Olympics.
Over the years, concerns about exposing travelers and airport employees to second-hand smoke have led most others airport in the United States to shutter their smoking lounges.
And in 2015, then U.S. Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, used Facebook and Twitter to urge ATL to close its smoking lounges, stating “Mad Men ended, and this should too. World’s busiest airport can be its healthiest.”
But until Atlanta’s ordinance forced ATL to close its smoking areas, airport officials insisted the lounges were an important passenger convenience that also discouraged and prevented smokers from lighting up in inappropriate and unsafe places, such as restrooms.
Now, the airport will close and find another purpose for the spaces once set aside for smokers.
To help with the transition, ATL has posted signs and is running announcements on the overhead PA system in the airport, on the Plane Train between terminals and the SkyTrain that runs between the terminals and the rental car center, hotels and convention center.
And, acknowledging that “smoking is a part of daily life for some,” from January 2 to January 31, about two dozen concessionaires at ATL will be giving away free FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapy lozenges.
Travelers who still want to smoke or vape at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport will find designated smoking areas outside of the domestic and international terminals at least 25 feet from the terminal entrances. Anyone defying the new ban will be subject to a $200 fine.
Other options for smokers in airports
While there are many international airports with smoking lounges, the number of airports in the United States with smoking lounges is dwindling.
Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) closed its smoking lounges in 2016 and Denver International Airport (DEN) closed its remaining smoking lounge in 2018.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.