“County smoking ban bill gets airport exemption”

NOTE: This blog post was started three months ago, as indicated by the introduction below, but then got pushed aside by more pressing issues. I returned to it recently after learning that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was preparing to do a story on the vexed issue of Lambert Airport’s smoking rooms. This blog provides extensive background but is still a work in progress.

I attended the county council meeting on Tuesday, August 11, 2009, at the County Government Center in Clayton, expecting Councilwoman Barbara Fraser to introduce a version of her previous Substitute 2 for Bill # 189, and she did. This version was weaker than Substitute 2 though: in addition to exemptions for casinos and small bars it also exempted the smoking rooms in Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.

If anything was designed to stiffen Missouri GASP’s opposition to this bill this was it!

I cannot begin to describe how much time I’ve spent personally on trying to get Lambert Airport to go smoke-free, with help over the years from many Missouri GASP members and supporters. We’ve dressed up in “Smoke-Buster” clean room coverall outfits, sometimes wearing safety respirators or dust masks, and demonstrated outside St. Louis City Hall, as well as collecting petition signatures in the airport itself. This is illustrated in a flyer we prepared for Earth Day 1996, from which the photos below are reproduced. [Sorry for the poor quality but the original has been lost and this was printed on low-cost recycled paper.]

Asthmatic Vivian Dietemann being escorted around outside of airport to board plane. Airport petition signature gathering.

Smoke-sensitive asthmatic, Vivian Dietemann's, accessible path through the airport: being driven around outside to her plane on the tarmac, November 4, 1995. Petitioners Jim Elliott (left), Candy McCandliss, and Richard Taylor gathering signatures at the airport, Nov-Dec, 1995

In early 1993, former County Councilman Kurt Odenwald introduced two bills: one to make Lambert Airport entirely smoke-free, the other to do the same for all county buildings and vehicles. From February through April, while the bill was being considered, John Shear, then my county councilman, was meeting regularly and in private with two top executives from the former Tobacco Institute, the lobbying and propaganda arm of the tobacco industry. One was from their regional office in Kansas City, MO, the other from their Washington, DC, headquarters. They persuaded him to substantially weaken the bill, providing him with draft substitute language. When I asked Shear for an appointment during this period he initially agreed but then cancelled, making the excuse that he wanted to remain neutral and not “set a precedent.”

Both bills were referred to the Justice and Health Committee, chaired by Shear (shown below left in photo montage). The bill had the support of four council members – sponsor Odenwald, co-sponsor Geri Rothman-Serot, Deborah Kersting, and Greg Quinn (also shown below).

Council members Shear, Odenwald, Rothman-Serot, Kersting, and Quinn (Photos taken from press clippings, except Quinn)

Council members Shear, Odenwald, Rothman-Serot, Kersting, and Quinn (Photos taken from press clippings, except for Quinn's)

During two executive meetings of the committee Shear declared that he preferred having [toxic and carcinogenic] secondhand smoke throughout the inside of the airport rather than having to walk through a group of smokers standing outside an entrance. When Kersting suggested designating smoke-free entrances, Shear dismissed the idea out of hand.

That echoes a comment made by an opponent of a smoke-free airport this year. According to St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Phil Sutin, in his August 12, 2009, story County smoking ban bill gets airport exemption, current Lambert Airport Director, Richard Hrabko, made this statement about airport smoking:

     Hrabko said a smoking ban would encourage people to smoke at terminal entrances and in garages.
     “We don’t want passengers walking through a gantlet of smokers,” he said.

MN-StPaul_NoSmoking_sign HISTORICAL NOTE: I happened to fly into Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, MN, on May 23, 1993, which had gone entirely smoke-free inside just a month earlier, and found few smokers near entrances. Appropriate signage and removal of ashtrays from inside and near entrances had addressed the issue. Here are some photos I took at the time.

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport sporting new "No Smoking" sign
Several smokers outside airport entrance looking towards entrance

Several smokers outside airport entrance looking towards entrance

View from airport entrance towards road with several smokers on the right

View from airport entrance towards road with several smokers on the right

Returning to 1993, how did the tobacco industry defeat this bill? Not only were they colluding with Shear, but they also brainwashed Kersting’s administrative assistant, Joe Hardy. At a critical committee vote on Odenwald’s bill on the morning of April 29, 1993, Shear introduced a surprise substitute greatly weakening the original bill and putting smoking back into bars and cocktail lounges. Kersting, expected to vote for the original bill, instead switched to supporting the substitute and, in the full council meeting that afternoon, voted against the original airport smoke-free air bill, which prompted Odenwald to withdraw his bill to prevent enactment of the much weaker substitute.

During Shear’s presentation of his substitute in the morning, I noticed Hardy go over and talk to the two top Tobacco Institute lobbyists, who were sitting in the back of the visitors’ section of the committee room.

Later, when I questioned him about this, Hardy defended his action, saying the tobacco lobby was a valid source of information. He said he’d been talking to them about “ventilation” but declined to elaborate.

I learned later that three days before the upset committee vote Shear, Kersting and Hardy had toured Lambert Airport and while there Shear had convinced Kersting that the kitchen exhaust hoods provided in restaurants were adequate to deal with secondhand smoke generated in those areas.

NOTE: Ironically, Kersting is now Executive Director of the Greater Missouri March of Dimes and in that capacity, testified in favor of a strong ordinance before St. Louis County Council during consideration of Barbara Fraser’s Sub. 2 bill on August 4, 2009.

After introducing his substitute Shear was asked by Channel 4 TV reporter, Ellen Harris, on April 29, 1993, if he’d received any money from the tobacco lobby. Shear emphatically denied having done so.

However, Shear evidently already had an I.O.U. in his pocket because in September, 1993, Shear’s campaign report for his run for the state senate seat held by Democratic incumbent, John Schneider, showed a contribution of $1,000 from The Tobacco Institute in Kansas City, MO. That was the single largest contribution for the first six month reporting period.

Yes, the tobacco industry takes care of its own – or does it? Only a paltry $1,000 to buy a county councilman and save them possibly millions in lost tobacco sales?!

Formal complaint submitted to Deputy Airport Director, October 1993

Formal ADA complaint submitted to Deputy Airport Director, October 1993

Following the tobacco industry defeat of the county bill in 1993, Missouri GASP pursued a federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) discrimination complaint against the airport on behalf of two highly smoke-sensitive individuals, Ms. Vivian Dietemann, St. Louis, and Ms. Patricia Young, Dallas, Texas, submitting it to Deputy Airport Director, Gen. Hargrove, at a smoke-free venue so that Ms. Dietemann could attend, as shown in the photo above.

Patty Young (photo from web)

After months of inaction by the airport authority Missouri GASP learned that our discrimination complaint had "gone astray," so we filed another complaint, this time directly with Mr. Edward B. Brzezinski, U.S. Attorney's Office in St. Louis on July 13, 1994, who forwarded it to the DOT's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) in Washington, DC. We received considerable help in writing the complaints from Mr. Billy Williams, a retired airplane mechanic living in Texas who has dedicated himself to this issue (Please visit his website). He also helped file a detailed appeal when the complaint was initially rejected by the DOT Office of Civil Rights.

Airport Director, Col. Leonard Griggs

Airport Director, Col. Leonard Griggs

During the consideration of our complaint I met with former Airport Director, Colonel Leonard Griggs in December, 1994, to urge him to make the airport smoke-free. He said he was leaning in that direction but also considering totally enclosed and separately ventilated smoking rooms, which I said on technical grounds would not work unless equipped with an airlock and their own air supply.

After waiting almost a year with little to show for it we filed a Freedom of Information Act request on November 9, 1995, with the FAA Office of Civil Rights (OCR) requesting all pertinent documents relevant to our complaint against Lambert Airport. We received a detailed reply dated December 5, 1996, mostly devoted to Lambert’s ADA Compliance Survey, aimed at ensuring compliance with access requirements for those with physical disabilities such as individuals using wheelchairs or the vision impaired.

The cover letter signed by airport director Leonard L. Grigg, Jr. P.E., was in reply to eleven questions posed by Ms. Linda K. Dimon, Acting Manager-Civil Rights Staff, FAA, Kansas City, Mo, in a letter dated September 15, 1995. An earlier request to Griggs dated May 25, 1995, and signed by Johnnie Terry-Flemming, Manager, Civil Rights Staff, asking for the same information had evidently gone unanswered.

The questions, and subsequent answers, are detailed below but the cover letter from Griggs also sheds light on the airport’s attitude towards it’s alleged violation of the ADA as it relates to discrimination against highly smoke-sensitive individuals with breathing disabilities covered by the ADA.

In his cover letter dated November 1, 1995, Griggs starts by noting that no record can be found of the original complaint handed to General Rick Hargrove by Martin Pion at the time the photograph above was taken in October, 1993. Griggs writes:

Thank you for your letter of September 25, 1995, concerning a complaint filed by Mr. Martin Pion. After reviewing our files, we have no record of the letter dated October 28, 1993, written by Mr. Pion on behalf of Ms. Vivian Dietemann and Ms. Patricia Young. …

It is our interpretation that the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 does not address the issue of smoking in the area of public accommodation at airports. …

Our current smoking policy provides smoking areas as outlined under the terms of the State law and County ordinance. Lambert Airport instituted its smoking policy on June 15, 1992. The airport’s smoking task force recently evaluated the issue of totally eliminating smoking at the airport. After careful evaluation, it was determined that designated smoking areas should be placed in various parts of the airport in order to better serve the traveling public. Therefore, the Airport Authority submitted a request to the Capital Improvement Program to construct seven enclosed smoking lounges throughout the airport. These smoking lounges will be completed by early spring 1996.

There is a one-page attachment to the cover letter providing the responses to the 11 questions from the FAA OCR:

1. Airport and/or City’s contact person for ADA complaints:
Ms. Deborah Dee [Ph.D.]. [Contact information provided.]

2. Copy of airport’s procedures for processing complaints of discrimination based on handicap under 49 CFR 27.13(b):
See attached package (1). [This details the airport’s “Grievance Procedures for Public Services” and includes a one-page “Public Services Complaint Form” with the contact information of the complainant, and space for complaint description and resolution requested.]

3. Copy of airport’s ADA Self-Evaluation, as required under 28 CFR 35.105:
See attached package (2).[There was no attachment (2) but there was an ADA Compliance Survey, dated January 26, 1993. This relates to access issues relating to wheelchair access and the like but not to individuals with secondhand smoke sensitivity.]

4. Written description of Lambert’s smoking policy, plus diagram of smoking areas.
See attached package (3).
This was a two-page document detailing the smoking policy effective June 15, 1992, plus two pages indicating where the smoking designated areas were located, including designated public areas, non-public areas controlled by the airport, and areas leased to tenants.

5. Airport’s analysis and determination regarding the feasibility of eliminating smoking from airport property.
Lambert Airport evaluated eliminating smoking totally in the airport which included discussions with groups who provided their opinion on all phases of the smoking issue. To best serve the traveling public, it was determined to provide designated smoking areas for those who smoke. An estimate was determined for the construction of the smoking areas and with the Capital Improvement Program. An interim procedure restricting smoking to certain areas was developed, placed into effect, tested, and revised several times to accommodate both segments of the traveling public. Currently, the plans and specifications for the smoking lounges are approximately 90% completed, with target bidding date for December 1995. The construction date will be spring to early summer 1996.
At the time this document was prepared Missouri GASP had not been included in the above-noted consultations.

6. Airport’s analysis and determination regarding the feasibility of limiting smoking to totally enclosed and separately ventilated areas.
Same as above.

7. Description of processes/systems used by the airport to allow accessibility designs to be examined by qualified individuals familiar with the needs of persons with disabilities and/or customers with disabilities and local disability organizations.
The ADA Task Force meets to examine plans and policies for the airport. These members include representatives who are visually disabled, audibly disabled, motor dependable, and paraplegic. The task forces meets, as required, and tests guidelines on what they want to see in the airport to meet the needs of the ADA in order to better serve the disabled community.
Missouri GASP was never part of this task force, nor was it ever invited to be.

8. A copy of any other complaints filed with the airport relative to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and your disposition of them.
As far as we can ascertain, no complaint (filed with any federal agency) or private suit has been filed. The airport has not had a complaint under the ADA.
Martin Pion, Missouri GASP, was told by Ms. Cathy Ferris, who is very smoke-sensitive, that she had complained about smoking inside the airport but no documentary evidence was provided.

9. A copy of any correspondence generated by the airport or the city relative to the issues raised in Mr. Pion’s complaint of October 28, 1993.
See attached package (4)
This relates to a 5-page letter from Ms. Vivian Dietemann, dated October 14, 1993, with attachments addressed to Griggs, referencing both the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, and a reply dated October 25, 1993, from Kathy Leonard, Lambert’s Public Relations Manager, which notes the airport’s intention in next year’s capital improvement program “to provide new and improved ventilated smoking areas.”

10. A summary of actions taken that culminate with Lambert’s proposed response to this complaint. Please include a correlation between your response and the applicable law/regulation.
There is no regulation about smoking in reference to ADA. As for the Airport Authority, the City’s ADA representative, and other people familiar with the ADA, no regulation can be found in the public accommodation guidelines dealing with the smoking issue.
This is an example of gross negligence, since despite efforts by the tobacco industry to get Congress to exempt smoking, the ADA regulations actually require public places to be accessible to those individuals with breathing disabilities caused or exacerbated by secondhand tobacco smoke, up to and including a totally smoke-free environment. But the regulations also require the issue to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

11. Any other pertinent information indicating the airport’s compliance with the ADA in this matter, including a determination as to whether Mr. Pion’s request is “doable” or whether complying with Mr. Pion’s request would place an undue burden on the airport, as defined in the ADA.
The airport is not in conflict with ADA. There is no requirement with ADA under the public accommodation section. However, to better serve the public, ADA has included provisions of smoking lounges.
This reiterates the erroneous statement made in the preceding response. Also, Lambert later admitted that this last sentence was incorrect, and there is no provision in the ADA for smoking lounges.

The following year MoGASP contacted Dr. Deborah Dee, Commissioner of the Office on the Disabled with the City of St. Louis. In a certified letter dated March 23, 1996, we formally requested the City to “perform a self-evaluation of its services, policies and practices in regard to persons with respiratory disabilities, as required by Title II of the ADA and its implementing regulations, 28 CFR Part 35 section 35.105,” and alleged “continued denial of access to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport” for such individuals.

Dr. Dee’s initial response, dated March 27, 1996, was enthusiastic, and included a half-inch thick inventory of actions taken to ensure compliance with the ADA, although as with Lambert’s self-evaluation it omitted those with respiratory disabilities. This continues to be surprising, given that on page 1 of the document she sent is the following, quoting directly from the ADA implementing regulations:

The term disability is defined in the ADA with respect to an individual as:

1. Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one of more major life activity.

According to the regulations, “The phrase major life activities means functions such as …. speaking, breathing, …. working.”

Subsequently, Dr. Dee faxed me an invitation to a meeting with Mr. Bill Fronick at Lambert Airport on April 18, 1996, and I hoped that this would lead to a dialog about the removal of smoking from inside the airport. Instead, when I met with Dee and Fronick, the former said nothing and the latter laid out the airport’s plans to install semi-enclosed smoking rooms throughout the airport and then sign the rest of the airport as No Smoking.

I responded that, based upon my scientific knowledge of designing and supervising a semiconductor clean room at McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Co. where I worked, the rooms described by Fronick would not work unless provided with an airlock and completely separate HVAC system. Fronick rejected that argument, saying that he had experience designing operating rooms in hospitals.

MoGASP sent two detailed letters to Dee following this meeting, the second by certified mail being also sent to Fronick, Michael Donatt, Airport Legal Department, Griggs, and Marie Yancey, Lambert Public Information Office.

The letter again formally complained of denial of access for breathing disabled individuals to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport under the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA.

This prompted a terse May 15, 1996, reply from Dee:

Thank you for your correspondence dated May 9, 1996. I will not respond to this correspondence because you have filed a formal ADA complaint which is pending. Thank you for the information you provided.

That was the last time I heard from Dr. Dee, who is now retired.

The airport’s plans to install 7 smoking rooms was featured in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article by reporter Mark Schlinkmann headlined “Airport Spending $420,000 On Smoking Rooms” which appeared February 29, 1996. The photo accompanying the story is shown below.

Caption: Lambert Field employees and travelers puff away in one of 13 open areas where smoking is permitted. Separate rooms for smokers are planned.

Quoting from Schlinkmann’s article:

     Griggs said in 1994 he wanted to make the airport smoke-free. But since then, he said, he and airline officials have agreed that some customers, especially those waiting for connecting flights, “have a need and do smoke.”
     “We tried to make the right decision to accommodate everybody,” said Griggs, who said he shed his own cigarette habit about 15 years ago.
     Anti-smoking activists here reacted cautiously to the plans for the separately ventilated rooms, which have to be approved by the commission that oversees the airport.
     The activists said that the rooms can only improve the environment at Lambert, which Pat Lindsey of the American Stop Smoking Intervention Study called “the ashtray of the Midwest.” But they said it would be better just to ban all smoking inside the airport buildings, saying that would do a better job of reducing the risk of cancer and other health problems they say can result from secondhand smoke.
     And the $420,000 cost here riled some of them.
     “It would be much simpler not to spend the money and to bite the bullet as other airports have done” and prohibit smoking, said Martin Pion of Missouri GASP, which is short for Group Against Smoking Pollution.
     Pion and Lindsey complained that the rooms would not keep fumes entirely out of the general terminal areas because they will not have doors, allowing people – and smoke – to go in and out freely.
     Marie Yancey, a Lambert spokeswoman, says the smoky air will not escape because it will be removed from the rooms too fast.
     Barbara Gann, a spokeswoman for Salt Lake City International Airport – which has had four such rooms since 1993 – said no smoke escapes.
     But at Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport, spokeswoman April Majors confirmed that some smoke does drift out of some of the 10 separately ventilated rooms installed there over the past year. Majors said, though, that the effect on the rest of the terminal is minimal.
     Thomas Lauria, a spokesman for the Tobacco Institute – the tobacco industry lobby group – said it prefers separately ventilated rooms to a prohibition on smoking. But he criticized one aspect of Lambert’s planned policy – the ban on smoking in bars and restaurants.

By February of the following year, the estimated cost of the smoking rooms had risen to $450,000 after some reported construction problems. But by then the smoking rooms were also nearing completion, according to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch story by reporter Robert Manor, “Where There’s Smoke: There’ll Soon Be A Lounge, At Lambert,” published February 3, 1997. The Post-Dispatch Weatherbird, who was then still confined in a rectangle, had an accompanying comment on Manor’s article, which began:

     Smoking in Lambert Field’s bars and entrances will be off-limits soon, as the airport readies specially vented smoking lounges to separate people who enjoy tobacco from those who abhor it. …
Individual exhaust fans will draw air from the airport into each smoking lounge through a 3-by-7-foot open doorway, then vent it outside.
     The system depends on a constant flow of air through the lounge to blow smoke from cigars and cigarettes into the atmosphere, rather than remaining within Lambert’s concourses and terminal.
     The engineer who supervised the project says he is confident that the smoking lounges will work – even though the lounges depend entirely on the rush of air, having no door or other physical barrier to keep smoke away from nonsmokers.
     William C. Fronic (sic), Lambert’s assistant director of planning and engineering, said the airport will monitor the effectiveness of the lounges.

The story then continues with a bizarre statement by Fronick:

     “You could see the blue haze inside, but nothing came out the door,” he said. “We assume if you can’t see it, it’s not there.”

I found this statement by someone claiming to be a knowledgeable engineer to be incredulous. The median diameter of secondhand smoke is significantly less than one micron, i.e. less than 1/100th the thickness of a human hair, so it’s entirely invisible to the naked eye. It’s like Fronick is suggesting that the H1N1 virus doesn’t exist because you can’t see it!
Even the ancient Greeks understood there were particles which you couldn’t see with the naked eye: They coined the word atomos (“indivisible”) to describe the smallest of such particles.

Manor’s article continues:

     Fronic said the airport decided to try and accommodate all air travelers. “We have approached this as not being anti- or pro-smoking,” he said.
     Martin Pion, president of Missouri GASP – Group Against Smoking Pollution – says the airport was headed in the right direction in 1994 and is wasting money on smoking lounges that won’t protect people with respiratory problems.
     Pion oversaw a suite of clean rooms at McDonnell Douglas Corp. and is familiar with techniques for eliminating pollution from the atmosphere.
     Clean rooms keep environmental contaminants out of the atmosphere, and Pion says the same principle applies to smoking lounges.
     “A smoking room is a clean room in reverse,” he said. “You are trying to keep the pollutants and carcinogens in.”
     “You have to have an air lock,” Pion said. “You have to monitor the air pressure carefully.”
     Pion said that for the smoking lounges to work, they would need to be isolated from the airport by a double-doored air lock and a separate ventilation system to draw air from the outside, circulate it through the room and then exhaust it back outside.
     Pion has repeatedly goaded Lambert to ban smoking inside and outside the airport.
     For many people, tobacco smoke is a minor annoyance. For some, it is an environmental nightmare.
     Pion notes that individuals who react violently to minute concentrations of tobacco smoke have a right to use the airport. Terminal workers have a right to be free of smoke, he said.
     Several airports elsewhere seem to agree.

The article goes on to describe comments from air travelers, both pro and con.

A sidebar lists 18 out of 59 airports which are now totally smoke-free in the U.S., based on information provided by the Airports Council International-North America, 1995.

As noted above, my belief was that the smoking rooms being constructed in Lambert would not prevent some secondhand smoke from migrating out the open doorways into adjacent nominally smoke-free areas and a tour I made of the airport that year confirmed this subjectively. However, I wanted to scientifically test this personal observation by sampling the air near a smoking room using a nicotine monitor left in place for several days. I sent Griggs a formal request by certified mail on October 27, 1997, and received the following succinct reply dated October 28, 1997:

A written request for help sent to the FAA OCR in Washington, DC, was equally unsuccessful.

A word about the design of the the smoking rooms installed in Lambert, which are of a flawed design. They rely on air from the general air supply pulled in through the open doorway to capture all the tobacco smoke generated inside the room and exhaust it outside. However, the minute particulates and gasses in secondhand smoke aren’t quite that tame: they are governed by the laws of diffusion and move in all directions, including out through the open doorway and into adjoining nominally smoke-free areas where they can be detected by sensitive equipment, such as a nicotine monitor. Or sometimes by a sensitive human nose.

The principle is illustrated in the drawing below, based on an actual smoking room in Lambert Airport near Gates C10-C12 which was the subject of nicotine monitor testing in 1997/98 and again in 2002. A peer-reviewed paper “Airport smoking rooms don’t work” by Pion and Givel appeared in the journal Tobacco Control, March 2004, Vol. 13, Supp. No 1, pp i37-i40, published by the BMJ (British Medical Journal) reporting test results for this room (since dismantled by the airport – see note below).

The tests in 1997-1998 were conducted for Missouri GASP by a TWA gate agent wearing a nicotine monitor while on duty. The monitor revealed significant nicotine vapor levels even 40 ft. from the smoking room entrance. The test result was featured in a Channel 5 KSDK-TV NBC News Cover Story which first aired on Tuesday, July 28, 1998, at 10:15 p.m. [play video below].

Reporter Linton Johnson interviewed William Fronick, Director of Planning and Engineering, and said that Fronick claimed that the air ducts in the ceiling suck up 100% of the smoke and send it outdoors.

Fronick (during interview): “The air is always trying to get in from the outside not get out from the inside.”

Co-anchor Karen Foss’s closing remark at the end of the Cover Story was:

“Airport officials say they will not comment on the study because they’ve not yet had time to review the results.”

I sent the “airport officials” a letter following the broadcast asking for their comment on our smoking-room results: they never responded.

To counter any possible accusations of fraud, which would have been easy for us to do, e.g. just expose the nicotine monitor in a smoky environment other than the airport, the test was repeated independently for Missouri GASP by Environmental Solutions, St. Louis, in September 2002, with a similar result. This confirmed our earlier assertion that the smoking rooms in Lambert Airport are ineffective at preventing secondhand smoke from migrating into adjoining designated “No Smoking” areas. A peer-reviewed paper describing the results, as well as tobacco industry efforts to thwart smoke-free air efforts in airports, including Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, is available on-line. Please click the link Airport smoking rooms don’t work to view/download the pdf file. The photos below are reproduced from that paper.

Lambert Airport nicotine monitor test, conducted September 26, 2002 by James Foley, Environmental Solutions

Lambert Airport nicotine monitor test, conducted independently for Missouri GASP on September 26, 2002 by James Foley, Environmental Solutions

Interestingly enough, without fanfare, the airport eventually dismantled the one smoking room we tested near gate C10, pictured above, but not the rest.

Here are the important conclusions from the above published paper:

The tobacco industry has deliberately thwarted the enactment
of smoke-free policies at major US airports, and has
instead promoted construction of costly smoking rooms.
Measurements of nicotine vapour concentrations in the air
inside Lambert Airport, St Louis, compared to a non-smoking
airport indicate that smoking rooms, where they exist, will be
the major source of secondhand smoke exposure for nonsmokers
in adjacent non-smoking areas. To protect the health
and welfare of employees and the public, and to prevent
unlawful discrimination against smoke sensitive individuals
with respiratory and other disabilities, airports should
prohibit smoking indoors and also around outdoor

To counter complaints of poor indoor air quality due to smoking from passengers, fend off possible regulation by St. Louis City or County, and accommodate the tobacco industry aim of continued smoking in airports, Lambert Airport has a long history of paying consultants to do indoor air quality [IAQ] testing in the airport. Every such report invariably concludes that IAQ meets all applicable federal and industry standards.

James Repace, a leading biophysicist who has published extensively on the subject of secondhand smoke, has pointed out that these consultants are using inappropriate standards and insensitive measuring techniques based on those standards. They are compounding those errors by using the simple puffer test used by HVAC [Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning] engineers to verify airflow just outside smoking room entrances, as shown in the clip below of video shot during testing of each smoking room for a report prepared for Lambert Airport by Global Environmental Solutions in February 2003.

A crude visual test like this reveals nothing about the invisible particulates and gasses constituting the bulk of SHS, as noted in the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report of 1986.

[Please see page 137 The Health Consequences of Involuntary Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General. The report notes that SHS particulates are invisible and in the approximate size range 0.2 microns to 0.4 microns. For scale, 25 microns = 1 thousandth of an inch, and a human hair is typically 100 microns or 4 thousandths of an inch.

As noted in the report:

“ETS (environmental tobacco smoke) particles are in the diffusion-controlled regime for particle removal and therefore will tend to follow stream lines, remain airborne for long periods of time, and rapidly disperse through open volumes.”]

The ultimate “canary in the coalmine” is a smoke-sensitive human being and several having experienced the wonderful airport smoking rooms which officials claim to this day are 100% effective at containing secondhand hand smoke and venting it harmlessly outside. Probably the best evidence of the inadequacy of the smoking rooms was contained in a highly damning fax from Ms. Dorothy Graham, of Oakland, CA, received by Missouri GASP and dated August 13, 2000. This information and a reference to MoGASP’s nicotine monitor test results on an airport smoking room was sent to Mr. Julian E. Boyd, Deputy Mayor for Administration with the City of St. Louis on September 7, 2000, with copies to Francis Slay, President of the Board of Aldermen, Leonard Griggs, and William F. Compton, President and CEO of Trans World Airlines.

That prompted a reply from Griggs, dated September 29, 2000, reproduced below. While expressing a concern for the health and welfare of all airport users, it reaffirms full confidence in the performance of the smoking rooms, ignoring all contrary evidence. Below is the reply from Griggs (please click on either the link or the facsimile to view a clearer image), followed by the text of the fax from Ms. Graham with her photo appended.

Ms. Dorothy Graham of Oakland, CA, and repeat victim of SHS exposure from Lambert Airport's smoking rooms while awaiting connecting flights

Dorothy Graham:
      “I want to say that I can unequivocally disprove the claims of airport officials that smoke from these smoking lounges is vented out the ceiling, with none escaping into the airport. My respiratory distress upon disembarking at Lampert (sic) was immediate. The air at the gates adjacent to the smoking lounges is highly polluted with ETS, and the smoke permeates at a lower concentration throughout the airport, because there was literally no escaping it.”

Please click the following to view the pdf: Dorothy_Graham_081300_pp1_4

After ineffective efforts to get more media attention in early 2001, Freedom of Information Act Requests to the FAA OCR which were initially denied but partially approved on appeal, a formal appeal for assistance from Sen. Jean Carnahan, who responded on April 24, 2001, that “your case is currently being reviewed” by the FAA, a final decision with no possibility of appeal was issued by Fanny Rivera, Assistant Administrator for Civil Rights, dated June 5, 2001.

In essence, it dismissed the many arguments we had made, including the evidence for SHS escaping from the smoking rooms, on the grounds there was no relevant standard for nicotine, the incontrovertible surrogate we had used; that the airport tests showed the rooms were working properly; and that Missouri GASP had “offered no cases indicating that a disabled individual, as defined under the ADA, has been denied access to STL [St. Louis airport] as a result of sensitivity to tobacco smoke.”

The Letter of Determination included the following brief recommendations:

1) The Airport should continue implementing the following actions: a) self-evaluation of existing policies by monitoring the air quality in the smoking rooms to ensure the best possible air quality in the Airport; b) policing and enforcing its smoking policy; c) acknowledging and investigating all complaints; and d) responding to individual requests for accommodation.

2) The Airport should include GASP as one of the organizations tht it consults with in conducting future self-evaluations.

The entire document received from the FAA OCR can be viewed/downloaded by clicking the pdf file below:

County smoking ban bill gets airport exemption
By Phil Sutin

The St. Louis County Council is considering a new version of a bill that would send a smoking ban for indoor public places to voters on Nov. 3.

County Councilwoman Barbara Fraser, D-University City, introduced a version Tuesday night that includes an exemption for Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, which two previous versions did not. The council took no action on the latest version but dropped consideration of a previous version, which Fraser wanted eliminated to avoid legal challenges.

The airport requested the exemption Thursday, said Councilman Steve Stenger, D-south St. Louis County, a supporter of the bill and the airport exemption.

The airport has nine smoking lounges — eight in concourses and one in the main terminal. In an interview, Richard Hrabko, director of airports, said the smoking lounges work well to keep tobacco smoke away from nonsmokers. Hrabko said a smoking ban would encourage people to smoke at terminal entrances and in garages.

“We don’t want passengers walking through a gantlet of smokers,” he said.

He said the lounges prevent that while still accommodating smokers.

“A lot of people who smoke are cooped up two, three, four hours in planes that do not allow smoking,” Hrabko said. “We get a lot of people who thank us for the smoking lounges.”

But Martin Pion of the Missouri Group Against Smoking Pollution said a smoking ban would add to the health and welfare of the public and people who work at the airport. He has tried since the mid-1990s to persuade authorities to ban smoking at Lambert.

“It’s amazing that every time anyone tries to make the airport smoke free, the airport wiggles out,” he said. Pion said that one of the tobacco industry’s main goals is to prevent smoking bans at airports. The companies believe airports are good places to sell their product, he said.

Bronson Frick, associate director of the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation of Berkeley, Calif., said smoke-free airports are the norm, with at least 150 airports now smoke-free indoors.

Among the smoke-free airports on a list compiled by the 33-year-old foundation are airports in Boston; Chicago; Houston; Indianapolis; Kansas City; Louisville, Ky.; Miami; Nashville, Tenn.; New York; Seattle; and Springfield, Mo.

The bill retains exemptions for casino floors and bars, but no longer says the council would rescind the exemption for casinos if St. Louis, St. Charles County, the city of St. Charles or the state of Missouri passed a smoking ban that prohibited smoking in these areas. Fraser said Monday she eliminated the triggers at the request of County Counselor Patricia Redington who told her the current council should not tie the hands of future ones.

Only bars that have incomes from food at 25 percent or less of gross income and operating when the proposed ban would take effect on Jan. 2, 2011, could get an exemption.

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