Salt Lake City Mayor, Jackie Biskupski, and the airport announced the decision today as they insist that the current designs of the $1.8 billion Terminal Redevelopment Program do not include space for smoking rooms.
The six-month plan will begin on July 5 with the closure of the smoking room in Concourse D, and the final smoking room permanently closing on December 19.
The first phase of the Terminal Redevelopment Program is scheduled for completion in 2020.
“This is first and foremost an issue of public health, both for travellers and our airport employees, but it is also an issue of space concerns,” said Mayor Biskupski, on the closure plan.
“The current airport terminal is also beyond capacity, and every foot of available space should be used to the best advantage of the traveling public.”
Public health advocates estimate health care costs in Utah this year due to smoking will reach $542 million, with an additional $355 million in smoking-related lost productivity.
Closing the smoking rooms will also free up more than 1,200 square feet in the concourses for other purposes—possible retail space, charging stations for electronics, and extra passenger seating.
The city supported a 2016 bill at the Utah Legislature sponsored by state Senator, Evan Vickers, to require the airport close the rooms in compliance with the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act.
“Having been involved in this issue since last summer, I see this as a step forward for our airport and our state,” Senator Vickers said.
“I would have liked the Legislature to support this, but the timing is right and this is a positive and appropriate health move for our travelling public.”
Airport executive director, Maureen Riley, noted: “We have thoroughly studied the issue of closing the smoking rooms. While we expect a mild change in routine for some using the airport, we anticipate no major impact in passenger movement or convenience in taking this step.”
By keeping its airport smoking rooms open, Salt Lake City has remained an outlier in the United States. Currently, 27 of the 35 busiest US airports are smoke-free. More than 600 of the nation’s airports are smoke-free.
Those wishing to smoke at the airport will still be able to do so outside the terminals, 25 feet from entrances, in accordance with the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act.
In conjunction with closing the rooms, Salt Lake City International Airport will begin an outreach campaign to notify the public, as well as a no-cost smoking cessation programme for airport employees.