DENVER AIRPORT’S SMOKING LOUNGES
When Colin Nichols, a British airline passenger, was interviewed by reporter Linton Johnson near one of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport’s “smoking booths” in July 1998, he described it in graphic terms:
“I call it a Death Box …. It looks like a sort of Living Coffin.”
Rand Kannenberg doesn’t describe the smoking lounges at Denver international Airport (DIA) in quite such graphic terms. However, as a smoke-sensitive asthmatic he is still “fuming” about them, according to a Denver CBS4-TV investigative report by Rick Sallinger, posted on-line on December 22, 2006.
[Please click CBS4TV_DIA_061222 for an illustrated pdf version you can view and download.]
Rand Kannenberg in DIA
Rand Kannenberg told the reporter he’d had to use an inhaler twice while in the airport. Now he’s suing Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and Manager of Aviation Turner West, alleging the smoking lounges in the airport are in violation of the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act (CCIAA).
On January 3, 2007, Rand Kannenberg appeared before Judge Raymond N. Satter who spent nearly 30 minutes reviewing the evidence and listening to testimony from Mr. Kannenberg. The primary expert testimony presented was provided by Missouri GASP (click here to download a PDF version). Judge Satter eventually dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction without prejudice on the grounds it was “a criminal and not a civil matter,” while recommending that Mr. Kannenberg pursue his case with the District Attorney.
Rand Kannenberg subsequently wrote to Deputy District Attorney Henry R. Reeve the same day. He also e-mailed a note of appreciation to Missouri GASP in which he wrote:
You were and still are my case. You’re the best. THANK YOU.
In June 2004, the ALA of Colorado and GASP of Colorado jointly produced an in-depth report titled “Tobacco Industry Involvement in Colorado,” available on-line here. You can read the section detailing the tobacco industry’s successful efforts at promoting smoking accommodations in Denver’s airports[PDF]. Here is a revealing excerpt:
“An internal February 1994 Philip Morris email states, “The deal at Denver [airport] is not…public. We are doing an advertising deal with a restaurant there. We get advertising in exchange for paying for the ventilation system for the two lounges. All press reports have given the restaurant – Pour Le France, PLF – complete credit. That is just the way we like it.” “[Emphasis added.]
Denver International Airport’s smoking lounges and the smoking booths in Lambert-St. Louis International Airport operate on the same principle:
Conditioned air is drawn in from adjoining “No Smoking” areas of the Denver Airport via louvers above the windows (or through an open doorway at Lambert Airport). It is then sucked into ceiling vents connected to dedicated ductwork and exhausted outside the airport. The suction is provided by separate exhaust fans.
The still photos below were taken from the CBS4-TV investigative report by Rick Sallinger in DIA, referenced above. The vents shown above the windows flanking the entrance to the smoking lounge are provided specifically for the supply of makeup air from adjoining “No Smoking” parts of the airport.
A “smoke test” conducted by Steve LeDuc, smoking lounge manager, is shown below:
This still image shows simulated smoke from a commercial smoke generator (a plastic squeeze bottle containing fine silica powder) being drawn into one of the louvered vents in the smoking lounge. David Mosteller, owner of two of the smoking lounges, had this to say of Rand Kannenberg who had filed the complaints against the lounges:
“I think he was a bit, er, either misinformed or just not knowledgeable on the sophistication of our ventilation system.”
It turns out that Mr. Mosteller is not only fooling us, he is being fooled himself. The tobacco industry has been working assiduously for decades to promote “Accommodation” of smoking, especially in important venues like major airports. Their allies in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry profit from persuading building owners that installing costly ventilation systems is a reasonable alternative to simply going smoke-free.
But smoke-sensitive asthmatics, like Rand Kannenberg, can attest to what Missouri GASP has proved conclusively in a peer-reviewed paper: “Smoking rooms don’t work.”[PDF].
Most secondhand smoke consists of invisible particulates and gases, and while some, including the larger visible particles, are entrained in the air being sucked out the ceiling exhausts, the rest will backstream or diffuse out of any openings into adjoining “No Smoking” areas where the secondhand smoke concentration is lower than in the smoking area, as illustrated below for a typical open-doored “smoking booth” in Lambert Airport.
Smoking Room 4C
For a detailed scientific explanation of why such rooms don’t work please refer to the science of secondhand smoke here.