So this blog post is about smoking. I know it can kill and it is a terrible addiction. I don’t smoke but did many years ago so I understand the addiction and how tough it is. Please save your comments about how bad it is as I understand that. Not the point of this post.
According to the CDC and other sources about 16% of the American public smokes.This is great since it continues to drop each year. So out of 318 million documented citizens that is about 50 million smokers. According to the US Bureau of Statistics about 1.73 million passengers fly daily so about 16% of those are smokers or 276,800 roughly. Many smokers fly daily and these are rough averages but still should be fairly close. Now figure that most smokers can hold off and not smoke on short flights and don’t want to risk going through security to miss a flight etc. The problem is that many of these passengers do connect and are on longer flights.
Let’s look at a large hub as an example. Say Chicago (ORD). This airport averages about 213,000 passengers daily or over 77 million annually. So some days will be worse than others but lets just say it’s s slow day at ORD and only 150,000 passengers are going through that airport. Out of those 150,000 passengers about 24,000 are smokers. How many are going out through security just to smoke? This doesn’t even include employees. According to Airport Smokers Chicago ORD is a non-smoking airport. So let’s just be really light with the numbers and say only 10% of those smokers exit security and then come back through the TSA lines to catch the next flight. That is 2,400 people per day that would not need to be in front of you at the TSA checkpoints just because the airport won’t allow and/or doesn’t provide a place to smoke airside past security. Many airports have outlawed smoking or are the victim of a city like the Peoples Republic of Chicago. It’s not the TSA’s fault but maybe they could help by either requiring the airport to provide a smoking area inside security. What if I’m wrong and it’s more like 50% of those 24,000 are going through the TSA lines for no reason?
As of October 2016 29 of the top 35 airports in the USA are non-smoking. Some got worse as airline lounges did away with smoking areas in the lounges as well. American Airlines took out all the remaining smoking lounge areas in early 2016 (Like DFW Terminal A Admirals Club). Again I’m against smoking but I’m also against long TSA lines.
In addition this isn’t a USA only problem. Many airports around the world are working to outlaw smoking inside security. It’s dumb I tell you. It would be like outlawing liquor inside security but having bars set up outside. Or maybe outlawing coffee inside security but then having a Starbucks outside each exit. In this case I think it’s worse as smoking is a more addictive issue for “most” smokers overall compared to other bad addictions.
Some other airport smoking related sources: