Hartsfield-Jackson closes smoking rooms, goes smoke-free inside airport

Hartsfield-Jackson International's smoking rooms are now closed as the airport goes smoke-free indoors.

The closure of the smoking lounges is to comply with a new city ordinance that bans smoking and vaping inside the airport, restaurants, bars, workplaces and many other public locations in Atlanta.

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The ordinance was passed by the Atlanta City Council with a 13-2 vote and signed into law in July 2019 by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms with an effective date of Jan. 2, 2020. The prohibition covers cigarettes, cigars and electronic cigarettes.

In addition to the closure of smoking rooms at the world’s busiest airport, smoking is no longer be permitted at the three airport restaurants that have allowed it: Gordon Biersch, TAP and Terrapin Taphouse.

Signs around the airport notify passengers of the new ban.

The airport's domestic terminal and international terminal now have designated outdoor smoking zones. But those zones are not within the airport's security-controlled areas, meaning passengers who want to smoke while connecting between flights in Atlanta must leave the secure concourses to get to the outdoor smoking zones, then go back through security to catch their next flight.

Violating the smoke-free ordinance could result in a fine of up to $100 for a first violation, and up to $200 for each additional violation within a year.

Smoking is prohibited indoors at most of the 35 busiest airports in the United States. The only ones that still allow it are Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport, and Nashville International Airport, according to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation.

Some other airports have come up with outdoor smoking options past security. Miami International, for example, allows smoking in an open-air smoking lounge attached to a TGI Fridays restaurant on an airport concourse. Tampa International Airport has smoking patios past security.

Hartsfield-Jackson has a “30-day accommodation program” in the month of January in partnership with airport advertising contractor Clear Channel, which is getting 60,000 free packs of nicotine lozenges from distributor Perrigo.

A number of airport shops and restaurants will provide the nicotine lozenges for free to passengers who have “limited access to the exterior smoking zones.”