Tag Archives: Utah

Utah Senate votes to keep airport smoking rooms because of concerns over state’s “image”


OK, initially, I thought this was a bit of a humourous story until I actually read it, and now I’m left feeling like, “WTF?”

The Utah State Senate voted 15-14 last week to keep smoking rooms in the Salt Lake City Airport. Two of the reasons cited were personal freedom and worries about Utah’s “image.” Wut? What do smoking rooms at the airport have to do with Utah’s image?

Here’s the quote from the Desert News:

Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, said Salt Lake City carries a “different brand” and has to be careful about how people view it. He told a story about a Catholic nun from Utah who on a flight years ago had a passenger ask her if she minded him smoking. When she said yes, he replied, “You damn Mormons are all alike.”

“I’m very nervous about giving Salt Lake City a different image because people already have an image of Salt Lake City that we damn Mormons are all alike,” Hillyard said.

Also from the Deseret News, the bill sponsor’s response, which is pretty funny:

But Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, said he intends to talk to some of his colleagues about reconsidering SB61 after they voted it down 15-14.

“The image thing kind of threw me off guard. I didn’t see that coming,” he said after the Senate debate.

Vickers said during the Senate debate he could understand the argument that Utah would look “weird” if it were the first state to ban smoking in airports. He told his colleagues to travel to other states if they think it’s a perception issue.

“This is a not a new, revolutionary idea. This is something that has happened across the country. The traveling public is very much used to it,” he said. “If we’re the only ones standing at the end of the day, then the perception is going to be there. But it’s not going to be the perception you want.”

To the dillweed from Logan, if you’re concerned about Salt Lake City’s “image,” then why don’t you allow the bars at the airport to serve alcohol on Sundays? Salt Lake City is the only airport I’ve ever been in that shuts down alcohol sales on Sunday. I’ve flown through Salt Lake City countless times and spent many hours stuck in that airport. I’m very familiar with the smoking rooms in the airport; it’s the only airport I’ve seen that has them. (In fact, according to the Deseret News, only seven airports in the U.S. have smoking rooms. If it’s only seven then how does getting rid of them in Salt Lake somehow hurt Utah’s image again?)

I’m not that dogmatic that the smoking rooms have to be banned, it was just that part about Utah’s “image” that kind of threw me for a loop.

These smoking rooms are a trip and I’m convinced they’re purposely set up to discourage people from smoking. They’re glass-walled, so everyone can see the people in there smoking. There’s absolutely no privacy, and I can just imagine that it must feel embarrassing for the smokers sitting in there, as everyone walking through the airport watches them smoking.

As an aside, one of the many times I flew through Salt Lake City, my head ABSOLUTELY exploded on this one trip. I kid you not, I actually saw a woman sitting in the smoking room with a baby carriage. Oh .. my … God. So not only was that nitwit exposing her baby to her cigarette smoke, she was exposing her to the cigarette smoke from half a dozen other smokers … in an enclosed room with negative air pressure so the smoke wouldn’t leave the room. It was one of the most mind-blowing things I’ve ever seen.

As I’ve talked about in the past on the Lounge, something that makes me absolutely crazy is seeing people smoke around children. Fortunately, I see it less and less. In fact, I bet it’s been at least a couple of years since I’ve seen someone smoking in a car with kids.

Also mentioned in this story is the fact that Salt Lake City has a new mayor who is in favour of a smoking ban, and the mayor could simply shut down smoking at the city’s airport if the Legislature fails to do so.




Colorado, Utah consider raising the age for buying cigarettes to 21

teen smoking

Interesting, Colorado, the state that legalized recreational pot is considering raising the legal age for buying tobacco products to 21. Utah is considering similar legislation.

Report on Colorado bill

Honestly, don’t have a strong opinion on this. I see the logic behind making 21 the legal age for alcohol, because too many 18- and 19-year-olds are still too stupid to know how to use alcohol responsibly — supposedly, a certain percentage of those dumb kids will be smarter at 21 to know not to get plastered and drive, etc. Supposedly. But, since tobacco isn’t really an intoxicant, that argument doesn’t wash.

I suppose you could make the argument that most kids by the time they are 21 know better to even get started with cigarette smoking, but most kids get started anyway when they’re 15 or 16. Perhaps those kids who are just smoking a handful of cigarettes a day, start buying their own packs at 18, and by the time they’re 20, they’re addicted to the nicotine. Perhaps, a certain percentage of those kids never get addicted to begin with because by 21, they’re smart enough to know cigarettes are stupid. I mean, very, very few people actually start smoking after the age of 18.

Not surprisingly, lobbyists representing mini marts and convenience stores are opposing both bills. I’m not a total socialist weasel, but I can’t feel too much sympathy for retailers on this one. Hey, really, you want to keep making money selling cigs to 18-year-olds? Raising the price of beer by 5 cents and gasoline by 1 cent per gallon ought to make up for the lost revenues.