Attention travelers! Atlanta’s airport to soon send smokers outside

ATLANTA — If you’ve ever flown through the Atlanta airport, you’ve probably noticed the smoking rooms on all the concourses and seen people lighting up in a few airport restaurants.

That will soon be a thing of the past.

Starting Jan. 2, travelers will only be able to smoke outside in specific zones at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. All the smoking rooms inside the airport will close at the start of the new year.

Over the summer, the Atlanta City Council voted to ban smoking and vaping in public places including bars, enclosed workplaces and the airport.

Channel 2’s Christian Jennings spoke with a smoker Tuesday who said he’s OK with the change. She found Christopher McCreary, who has just flown in from Los Angeles, already using one of 15 new outdoor smoking zones.

“I know a lot of people don’t like smoking and if you’re smoking inside, even if it’s a room you’re in, smoke still has to come out of there ... people (are) going to smell that smoke,” McCreary said.

Airport officials said they will help ease the transition for flyers by offering free nicotine lozenges for the first 30 days.

“That might be a good idea, because I know some people, like, they can’t live without a cigarette,” McCreary said.

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Atlanta police say they’ll focus on education and will be patient with passengers, but you could face a $100 fine for the first violation and $200 if you’re caught smoking again.

“As it stands right now, Hartsfield-Jackson is one of only four domestic airports that permits indoor smoking and so as we enact this ban, we are actually (joining) the majority of airports,” said Paul Brown, Hartsfield-Jackson assistant general manager.

Airport officials told Jennings they will have 60,000 packs of those nicotine lozenges to give out to smokers 18 or older who show their ID and a boarding pass.

The ban will also include electronic smoking devices.