Lambert Airport’s “DEATH BOXES”

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        “I call it a Death Box. It looks like a sort of Living Coffin.”

Comment by Colin Nichols, a British airline passenger being interviewed near a Lambert airport smoking room by KSDK News Channel 5 TV reporter Linton Johnson in July 1998.

Missouri GASP has been fighting for a smoke-free Lambert-St. Louis International Airport for well over a decade, and we’ve made considerable progress, going from virtually unrestricted airport smoking to segregated smoking rooms.With the recent St. Louis County Council draft ordinance, introduced by Councilman Kurt Odenwald, to make all public buildings and workplaces in the county smoke-free, we at last have a chance to achieve our goal of smoke-free air. However, the airport is still resisting such efforts.On March 4, 2005, St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Clay Barbour wrote a story, headlined Airport asks to be excused from smoking ban, in which Gerard Slay, Deputy Airport Director, reportedly wrote to St. Louis County Council arguing for retention of the smoking rooms. Should his request be approved? Consider some history.Councilman Odenwald sponsored a bill in early 1993 to make all public areas of Lambert airport smoke-free. After organizing substantial opposition to the bill, including mass mailings, and delaying tactics, including bogus air quality measurements inside the airport, the bill was finally defeated when a key councilman and bill supporter, Deborah Kersting, was persuaded by the chairman of the council’s Justice & Health Committee, John Shear, to switch her vote. During this period MOGASP president, Martin Pion, asked for a meeting with Shear, who was also his councilman. An appointment was made but cancelled the next day on the grounds that Shear wished to remain neutral. Only later was it revealed that during this time Shear was meeting with Tobacco Institute lobbyists.

[Note from MoGASP: Sorry but this report is unfinished.]

, but it was was through a bill he . But in May 1992, lobbyists from the Tobacco Institute, the former trade organization representing American cigarette manufacturers, had met with then-airport director Gen. Donald Bennett to discuss the airport’s smoking policy. , had already had a.

Not when you consider all the reasons for opposing it. For example, an airport passenger was sickened not once, but twice, by secondhand smoke from the smoking rooms while deplaning on different occasions at the airport. Her complaint letter detailing the incident was dismissed by then-airport director, Leonard Griggs, in September 2000.

Nicotine monitor test results showing the airport smoking rooms were leaking secondhand smoke were first obtained in 1998, with the help of a gate agent working near a smoking room on the C–concourse. The results were featured in a Channel 5 KTVI News Cover Story by reporter Linton Johnson, broadcast in July 1998...