By Rachel Lippmann
St. Louis – Smokers waiting for a flight at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport will have to step outside to light up starting January 2.
The city announced Monday that the smoking lounges in Lambert's concourses will be closed.
"If you look at airports across the country, out of the top 30 airports, of the largest, 22 are already non smoking and I think you'll see more of those to follow," said Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, the airport's director.
The airport is located in the county but owned and operated by the city. Though the county ordinance contains an exemption for designated smoking areas at Lambert, both Hamm-Niebruegge and Slay believe the city as the owner has the right to determine smoking policy and remove a designation. "We've read through the policies inclusive of attorneys, looked at both the county and the city's acts, and we're compliant with both in doing this," the director said.
A spokeswoman for Slay said while the mayor had the authority to make Lambert smoke-free before the city ban went into effect, it made more sense to wait until the surrounding areas went smoke-free.
Hamm-Niebruegge said companies have already made offers on the lounges - five in Terminal One (though only three are accessible) and two in Terminal Two.
"A couple of those are located in some very prime real estate areas, so we have already had a couple of questions from vendors wanting to possibly look at those spaces for concessions or other opportunities for revenue producing items," she said.
Violations could result in a $50 fine