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DENVER (CBS4) – Indoor smoking at Denver International Airport just got a lot harder.
Airport officials announced Friday that three of the four smoking lounges at DIA are closing. The move comes after Denver Mayor Michael Hancock asked airport concessionaires to close their smoking lounges. Two of the three business owners decided to comply.
“DIA is the last public building in Colorado where indoor smoking lounges are still in operation,” Hancock said in a prepared statement. “While they are legally allowed, we believe the responsible decision is to eliminate these facilities in order to better protect the well being of everyone who uses the airport.”
“People that don’t want to come in don’t have to come in,” said smoker Chrystal Muehlhausen. “We’re not imposing anybody else, making them do it or exposing them to it.”
The lounge that will remain open is called Timberline Steaks & Grill on the C Concourse and it is operated by Smokin’ Bear LLC. Airport officials said Timberline will shut down after its lease expires in 2018, or if the business owners change their mind between now and then.
“Smoking is not one of those things that is easily acceptable in the public sphere and people notice it very easily, particularly here in Colorado,” said Hancock in an interview with CBS4.
One Aviator’s Lounge in the Jeppesen Terminal and one in the B Concourse will now be remodeled and open up as non-smoking businesses. One will become a Jamba Juice and one will become a barbecue restaurant and sports bar.
Although the lounges are equipped with systems that reduce the exposure to deadly chemicals in smoke, health experts say the only way to avoid contact with smoke is to avoid exposure in the first place.
“They do not eliminate them making it a significant health issue for employees and the traveling public,” said National Jewish Health spokeswoman Geri Reinardy.
Mesa Verde Restaurant and Bar on the A Concourse will also cease allowing smoking.
“I think it’s going to drive people outside because that’s the only place you can smoke and it would impact other people who don’t want to be exposed to smoke,” said non-smoker Dorothy Hargrove.
Airport officials said in a news release that 27 of the busiest 35 airports in the country are completely smoke free indoors.
Colorado’s indoor smoking ban — the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act — went into effect in the summer of 2006. Casinos were initially exempt from the ban but they became smoke-free too at the start of 2008.
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