There was something deliciously anthropomorphic about corralling smokers inside glass cages as if they were some kind of sad, endangered animal. Personally, I always thought of a certain Far Side
cartoon whenever I'd walk through the terminal and see them puffing away in silence.
But, alas, they'll be no more ogling the smokers at Lambert Field. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay announced today that the lounges will be phased out as part of the smoking bans going into effect January 1 in St. Louis and St. Louis County.
"The image we want to project is a city that is progressive and health conscious," Slay tells the Post-Dispatch
. (Gee, now if only the mayor would take a similarly "progressive" stance on the city's runaway shootings and murders
-- arguably a much larger health concern than second-hand smoke at the airport.)
Sure, the smoking lounges at Lambert have always been controversial, partly because they were installed without doors.
Airport officials said air vents kept smoke from leaving the entrances of the lounges -- a point refuted by the group Missourian's Against Smoking Pollutions (MO-GASP). They conducted a clandestine air test
that found -- gasp! -- that nicotine and smoke was escaping into the rest of the terminal.
Twenty-two of the nation's 29 largest airports now prohibit smoking. That's up from 2002 when fewer than half of biggest airports banned indoor smoking. Yep, love 'em or loathe 'em, smoking lounges in airports are going the way of the dodo. RIP.
I never used the smoking lounges at Lambert Field, but I'm going to miss them.