Objective To review smoking policies of major international airports, to compare these policies with corresponding incountry tobacco control legislation and to identify areas of improvement for advancing smoke-free policy in airports.
Methods We reviewed smoking policies of 34 major international airports in five world regions, and collected data on current national and subnational legislation on smoke-free indoor places in the corresponding airport locations. We then compared airport smoking policies with local legislation. Additionally, we collected anecdotal information concerning smoking rules and practices in specific airports from an online traveller website.
Results We found that 52.9% of the airports reviewed had indoor smoking rooms or smoking areas; smoking policy was unknown or unstated for two airports. 55.9% of the airports were located in countries where national legislation allowed designated smoking rooms and areas, while 35.3% were in smoke-free countries. Subnational legislation restricted smoking in 60% of the airport locations, while 40% were smoke-free. 71.4% of the airport locations had subnational legislation that allowed smoke-free laws to be more stringent than at the national level, but only half of these places had enacted such laws.
Conclusions Despite the increasing presence of smoke-free places and legal capacity to enact stricter legislation at the local level, airports represent a public and occupational space that is often overlooked in national or subnational smoke-free policies. Secondhand smoke exposure in airports can be reduced among travellers and workers by implementing and enforcing smoke-free policies in airports. Additionally, existing information on smoke-free legislation lacks consistent terminology and definitions, which are needed to inform future tobacco control policy within airports and in the law.
- Secondhand smoke
- Public policy
- Priority/special populations
- Global health
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