There’s Room for Smoking

On my recent visit to America, in the short transit time that I was in Dallas airport I was confronted with several so-called ‘smoking rooms’. These rooms were approximately 6mx6m, in which dozens of people performed what looked like ‘human Tetris’ while inhaling one last hit of nicotine before their painful flight of forced nicotine abstinence.

A photo of the current 'smoking room' in Atlanta airport

Rhianna King’s article “Airport smoking rooms a ‘retrograde’ step” published in the Western Australian newspaper on the 5th of January 2012, critically attacks the Perth Domestic Airport’s plans to construct a ‘smoking room’ referring to it as a ‘retrograde’ or regressive move. These plans seem to fly in the face of recent national anti-smoking campaigns and the push for tighter regulations around smoking in public places.

This article includes the Perth Airport spokeswoman’s comment justifying the purpose of the ‘smoke room’, as a project aimed at protecting people from passive smoke. Certainly, I agree that the protection of the public is a priority but what of the harm to smokers? The article presents the spokeswoman’s justification as ignorant because it contradicts expert advice and disregards recent regulations and media campaigns that advocate against smoking.

Mike Daube, Professor of Health Policy at Curtin University was particularly harsh in his criticism of the plans, stating:

“It goes absolutely dead against the approaches we have been taking towards the decline of smoking.”

The media portrays the issue of ‘smoking rooms’ as ridiculous, presenting opinions that condemn Perth airport’s plans. King’s inclusion of expert opinions, such as that of Daube, in her article provides affirmation supporting her argument about how ludicrous the spokeswoman’s comments and justifications really are.  Ultimately, by making contingencies such as the ‘smoke rooms’ in airports, perhaps the impact of the expert advice, as well as the changes in recent regulations and anti-smoking media campaigns are being undermined.

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