Published Thursday, Nov. 18, 2010 | 9:05 a.m.
Updated Friday, Nov. 19, 2010 | 1:37 a.m.
McCarran International Airport remains a holdout among the nation’s largest airports on a smoking ban, according to the latest survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC identified McCarran as one of seven large-hub airports that still have indoor smoking areas.
The airport, which used to have multiple glass-walled smoking rooms, now has only one place to light up — a bar that qualifies as an exemption to Nevada’s no-smoking law.
There are 29 hub airports in the country, used by airlines as connecting points where passengers switch planes to reach their destinations.
Seventy-six percent of the nation’s hub airports were smoke-free in the government’s latest survey, released Thursday. In 2002, 42 percent of the hub airports were smoke-free.
On the flip side, 79 percent of the airports have designated outdoor smoking areas, compared with 68 percent in 2002.
McCarran is joined on the indoor smoking list by Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the nation’s busiest — and the one with the most smoking areas, 12; Dallas-Fort Worth International; Denver International; Charlotte-Douglas International in Charlotte, N.C.; Washington Dulles International; and Salt Lake City International.
Smoking at McCarran is legal at the Budweiser Racing Track Lounge, a bar on the second-floor esplanade near the main entry to the C gates.
Chris Jones, a spokesman for McCarran, said the Southern Nevada Health District determined that the lounge qualified as an exemption to the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act because food is not served there.
The report came out a week before the nation’s busiest travel season, with the government noting that 22 percent of Thanksgiving holiday travelers will be boarding at the seven major airports that still allow some form of indoor smoking.
“Completely eliminating smoking in all public places and workplaces, including airports, is the only way to fully protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke exposure,” said Dr. Ursula Bauer, director of the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
The CDC estimates 46 million Americans smoke and despite the adoption of state and local laws banning smoking indoors, 88 million nonsmokers are exposed to secondhand smoke in public spaces, workplaces, homes and vehicles. The agency estimates 46,000 people die of heart disease and 3,400 of lung cancer annually because of secondhand smoke.