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Lambert passengers will have to light up outside

St. Louis Public Radio
This smoking lounge at Lambert will be a thing of the past starting Jan. 2

In ablog post on the busiest travel day of the year last year, St. Louis mayor Francis Slay made it clear he wanted to make Lambert Airport smoke-free.

That goal is now policy.

The mayor's office announced Monday that starting January 2, passengers at Lambert who want to smoke will have to step outside. The airport's smoking lounges will no longer be available.

The airport is a unique entity. Though it's located in St. Louis County, it's a city-owned and operated building.

The county's ban makes it clear that the lounges were exempt. From Section 605.060:

j. Areas designated and posted as smoking areas by the Airport Authority of Lambert St.Louis International Airport pursuant to Section 721.045, Title VII SLCRO 1974 as amended.

But Section 4 of the city's ordinance appears to conflict directly with the county's policy:

15. Public transportation vehicles, including buses and taxicabs, under the authority of the City of St. Louis, and ticket, boarding, and waiting areas of public transportation facilities, including bus, train, and airport facilities.

City and county officials agree, though, that because the airport is city-owned, the mayor has the right to revoke a designation as a smoking area. That was essentially what Slay did on Monday.  His spokeswoman, Kara Bowlin, said the mayor had the authority to do so even without the city's ban, but chose to wait until the entire city went smoke free.

And airport director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge isn't expecting any legal issues, either.

"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," she said.

Vendors have already approached airport officials about using the space, Hamm-Niebruegge said.

"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 says.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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