Travelers who smoke might typically land at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport and head to one of the airport’s designated smoking rooms, but those days may soon be over. The Atlanta City Council approved an ordinance this week that would entirely ban smoking and vaping at the airport, as well as at several of the city’s public areas, including restaurants, bars, and hotel rooms.
The council voted 13-2 in favor of the smoking ban, which includes cigarettes, cigars, and electronic cigarettes. If the ordinance is approved and signed by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, it will go into effect Jan. 2, 2020. (A Georgia law passed in 2005 already prohibits smoking in restaurants and bars where people under 18 are permitted and requires a smoking area to be enclosed and private or outdoors.)
Atlanta’s airport is one of the last major U.S. hubs to still offer travelers designated smoking areas. According to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, all but five of the 35 busiest U.S. airports were smoke-free as of Jan. 2, 2019. O’Hare International Airport in Chicago; Los Angeles International Airport; Dallas Fort Worth International Airport; Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina; and recently, Denver International Airport have closed smoking lounges and gone completely smoke-free indoors.
In addition to Atlanta, Dulles International in D.C. and airports in Las Vegas and Nashville still allow smoking in certain places. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that even if the ordinance passes, some vape and tobacco stores, private clubs, and cigar bars in Atlanta would be exempt and it was unclear whether the ban would apply to every business inside the Atlanta airport.
If approved, Atlanta airport’s current smoking rooms “will be converted to other spaces,” airport spokesman Andrew Gobeil told the AP.