Smokefree Skies Anniversary


Press Releases
Celebrate in Your Area - Event Materials
Smokefree Skies Memory Book
Flight Attendants Speak Up
Tobacco Industry Interference
Why Aren't All Airports Now Smokefree?
California Helped Lead the Way
Department of Transportation - E-Cigarettes
Research Studies

Press Releases and Media Statements

Smokefree Airlines Protect Generations to Come

#SmokefreeAirports Selfies Campaign

ANR Press Release: Smokefree Flights - But Smoke Lingering in Nation's Busiest Airports (Feb. 25, 2015)

ANR Press Release: Smokefree Flights Anniversary (Feb. 23, 2015)

Association of Flight Attendants-CWA Media Statement

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Release

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Press Release

American Heart Association Statement

American Lung Association Media Statement

Action on Smoking & Health Press Release

Senator Dick Durbin's Press Release

Senator Dick Durbin's Thank You Letter to ANR

Senator Durbin's Floor Speech to Commemorate 25 Years of Smokefree Skies (February 25 2015)

In February 2015, Senator Dick Durbin marked an important milestone: 25 years of #SmokefreeSkies. We applaud Senator Durbin and all the brave flight attendants who fought to get smoking out of their workplaces in the sky. Let's keep it up! Too many workers on the ground still need protection.

ANR's Executive Director Cynthia Hallett speaking at the event

Senator Dick Durbin's Thank You Letter to ANR


Celebrating 25 Years of Smokefree Skies

On February 25, 1990, the "no-smoking" sign was permanently lit on U.S. domestic airline flights - for the health of flight attendants and passengers. This eventually led to smokefree air on all flights to and from the U.S. and to smokefree policies for airlines worldwide.

2015 marks the 25 year anniversary of this important public health achievement - made possible by a broad coalition of health groups, incredible legislative champions - Senator Lautenberg and Senator Durbin (then Rep. Durbin), and tenacious flight attendants who were willing to speak up publicly for their right to breathe.

Flying the Smokefree Skies Milestones

Smokefree Transportation Chronology

Interactive Overview of the Campaign for Smokefree Airline Flights (from Grassroots Change)

In the 1980s, ANR staff Mark Pertschuk and Julia Carol met with Norman Mineta to discuss proposals for smokefree airline flights.
Mr. Mineta was then the Chair of the House Subcommittee on Aviation and later served as U.S. Secretary of Transportation.



Celebrate in Your Area - Event Materials


To order stickers, please complete this order form and mail or scan/email it in.
You may also call us at 510-841-3032.
($5 for 10 stickers or $40 for roll of 100 stickers)

Please send us photos of you wearing your sticker while traveling! Send by email or tag us on social media using #smokefreeskies


young boys in smokefree airplane cockpit

Smokefree Skies - for health of flight crews for generations to come

Thumbs up to Smokefree Skies! It's saved countless lives.


Activities Toolkit: Celebrate 25 years of Smokefree Skies!



Smokefree Skies Memory Book

Do you remember smoking on airplanes? Feel free to read the amazing stories in our Smokefree Skies Memory Book and to submit your own!

"For those non-smoking flight attendants who flew before the smoking ban, the cabin conditions were horrific. Indelibly stamped in our minds are images of this intolerable situation...smoke so thick that after the no smoking sign went off you could not see from the aft jump seat to the front of the cabin, fires started from dropped cigarettes, teeth and hair discolored by the smoke and the pungent smell of tobacco smoke in your uniform. Beyond the images, there were the all too frequent respiratory infections, burning eyes, and down line health consequences. ... Since the ban 25 years ago we have gotten very used to clean air in those same cabins. What an enormous difference it makes. We are beyond happy about the ban-it is lifesaving. But--we can never take it for granted. All of us, including young people today who may have never experienced this situation must guard this right to clean air to whatever future challenges might come up. We must never have this situation again. ... Thanks again for all ANR has done." -- Lani Blissard, Former Flight Attendant

" was like working in a chimney!" -- Kate Jewell, Former Flight Attendant



Flight Attendants Speak Up

Former flight attendants describe the horror of working on smoke-filled airplanes in the two video clips below.

Patty Young Speech for Ending Secondhand Smoke on Airplanes

Patty Young, former flight attendant, describes what it is like to work in a smoke-filled airplane in this video clip from the late 1980's during the fight for smokefree skies. (Clip provided by The Center for the Study of Tobacco and Society).

"I will be forever grateful to ANR for their comprehensive and generous support over decades to help the flight attendants get smoking off of all flights... Our flight attendant fight to ban smoking was a long and difficult road that resulted in many sicknesses, diseases, deaths and disabilities for our flight attendants. But on the positive side, our fight also led to the modern day worldwide non-smoking movement." -- Patty Young

Flight Attendant Kathie Cheney Speaks about Smoking on Airplanes

In this compelling video produced by the Georgia Alliance for Tobacco Prevention, former flight attendant Kathie Cheney describes her experience on smoke-filled flights, her diagnosis with "smokers' throat" and subsequent surgery.

In this tribute to Senator Lautenberg, MSNBC's Chris Hayes did a remarkable job of explaining the value and purpose of the Smokefree Skies law:


In the Congressional Record, then-Representive Richard Durbin listed the many organizations and individuals who played supporting roles in the smokefree skies law, including Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights.


Tobacco Industry Interference

The tobacco industry along with its frontgroups and allies fought hard to undermine smokefree skies, despite the preventable death and disease to flight attendants. At the time, Big Tobacco opponents said that smoking was just part of the job. If people didn't want to breathe smoke in their job, they should work somewhere else. Smokefree airplanes would never work. People would stop flying or it would cause air rage.

Scroll through this online collection of more than 100 videos at UCSF Legacy Tobacco Documents Library about the Airline Smoking Ban - including tv interviews, commercials, and more

Video of congressional hearing about secondhand smoke on airplanes




In 1988, the Tobacco Institute's "Smokers' Rights Alliance" launched a letter writing campaign to Congress and the Federal Aviation Administration, in an effort to block the adoption of smokefree flight policies.

The campaign failed.


Here is a draft of an advertisement that RJ Reynolds ran against Northwest Airlines after the airline went voluntarily smokefree.




Remember having a row of seats separating the smoking section from the nonsmoking section in-flight? Here is an example of signage and a seating chart of smoking and nonsmoking sections on an airplane.













Why Aren't All Airports Now Smokefree?

The amazing thing is not that smokefree airplanes work great and are now taken for granted, but that 25 years later, many people are STILL exposed to secondhand smoke in their workplaces and public places on the ground. In fact, tobacco industry allies say the exact same thing now about casino workers' exposure to secondhand smoke in their job as was said about flight attendants 25 years ago.

Most US airports are now 100% smokefree indoors - as are many around the world. But a handful of U.S. airports still allow indoor smoking: Atlanta, Denver, Dulles, Salt Lake City, Memphis, Nashville, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Cincinnati/Northern KY, and Biloxi.

The science is clear that airport smoking rooms don't address the health hazards of secondhand smoke or prevent the smoke from going into the indoor shared airspace.

100% Smokefree U.S. Airports




Smoking Policies in the 35 Busiest U.S. Airports




Smoking in Airports: Selected Tobacco Industry Documents




Indoor smoking at Salt Lake City Airport exposes everyone in the building to secondhand smoke.


California Helped Lead the Way

The federal law for smokefree airplanes was preceded by a 1987 California law sponsored by then Senator Nicholas (Nick) Petris. The law made all in-state flights in California smokefree (i.e. flying from San Francisco to San Diego). This showed that this was possible and helped move the Federal effort forward.

ANR presented CA Senator Petris with its Smokefree Hero Award for his sponsorship of the landmark smokefree transportation legislation.


Department of Transportation - E-Cigarettes

Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR) Applauds Implementation of DOT Rule Prohibiting Use of Electronic Smoking Devices Onboard Aircraft
Posted on April 4, 2016
Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR) applauds today’s implementation of the Department of Transportation (DOT) Rule to prohibit the use of electronic smoking devices on domestic commercial aircraft and for all flights to and from the United States.

U.S. Department of Transportation Explicitly Bans the Use of Electronic Cigarettes on Commercial Flights
Aviation Pros - March 2, 2016


On December 22, 2014, Politico Pulse reported that, "All domestic airlines have self-imposed bans on e-cigarette use, but the Department of Transportation is also working on rules to ban them. Except that the agency has delayed the release of those rules again, saying it needed time for 'additional coordination.' After saying in August the rules would be finalized by the end of this, DOT is now pushing the date to March 30. It first published proposed rules more than three years ago, which would prohibit e-cigarette use during domestic flights and international flights to and from the U.S."

A group of Senators wrote a letter to the Department of Transportation urging that e-cigarettes be included in the smokefree skies law. Here is the response from the Department of Transportation.

Research Studies



New Department of Transportation rule will ban use of e-cigarettes on planes
Los Angeles Times - March 3, 2016

US Bans Use of e-Cigarettes on Airline Flights
New York Times - March 2, 2016

IL senator applauds DOT decision to ban e-cigs on airplanes
KFVS - March 2, 2016

U.S. Department of Transportation Explicitly Bans the Use of Electronic Cigarettes on Commercial Flights
Aviation Pros - March 2, 2016

Lithium Batteries Could Spark 'Catastrophic' Plane Fires, FAA Warns [VIDEO]
WspyNews (press release) (registration) - February 10, 2016

Norton Introduces Bill to Ban Use of E-Cigarettes and Other Electronic Smoking Devices on Airplanes
October 27, 2015

Feds Ban E-Cigarettes in Checked Airline Bags, Citing Fire Threat
AP - Associated Press - October 27, 2015

Lautenberg legacy to play key role in top industry reform push
Environment & Energy Publishing - March 10, 2015

To fight the smoking ban, airlines and cigarette companies worked together to ... on whether it was possible to modify aircraft to better ventilate the smoke.

Dick Durbin tells about the dare that resulted in airplane smoking ban
Chicago Sun-Times - February 25, 2015

And on the Senate floor on Wednesday, Sen. Dick Durbin, R-Illinois, reminded everyone of how the legislation came to be. At the time, he was a House member .

It's Been 25 Years of Smoke-Free Flying. Is the Air on Your Plane ...
Yahoo Travel - February 25, 2015

Once upon a time there used to be smoking on flights. For those who don't remember — it was disgusting. Even many smokers didn't want to be stuck in a plane ...

The 25th Anniversary of Smoke Free Skies [Video of Senator Dick Durbin]
YouTube - February 25, 2015

Twenty-five years after the implementation of landmark legislation to ban smoking on commercial airline flights, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take immediate action to protect young people from predatory e-cigarette marketing and distribution tactics that ...

Will Vaping Reignite The Battle Over Smoking On Airplanes?
National Public Radio (NPR) - February 24, 2015

Now the big question is whether e-cigarettes should fall under the same restrictions. The Department of Transportation considers the current smoking ban to include e-cigarettes, and the department is in the process of determining whether they need an e

Foul smell, burnt pantyhose: Flight attendants remember smoky flights
The Seattle Times - February 24, 2015

The ban on smoking in airplanes began 25 years ago, and flight attendants tell ... consider what it was like before smoking was banned on domestic flights 25 ...

Associations Now (ASAE) – February 24, 2014

Before we got rid of smoking in restaurants, we got rid of smoking on airplanes. That first step helped turn secondhand smoke from a (cough, hack) fact of life into a (deep breath) rare occurrence. And the American Lung Association (ALA) is proud of its ...

Twenty-five Years Ago, U.S. Airlines Banned Smoking On Domestic Flights
Forbes - February 24, 2015

Twenty-five years ago Wednesday, a new federal law banned smoking on nearly every domestic flight, a key step in the continuing struggle to improve public health by reducing smoking and exposure to it. … Feb. 25 "is an important anniversary because it established a precedent that airline cabins were an environment not to have smoking," said Dave Dobbins, chief operating officer of Legacy, an anti-smoking advocacy group. "That provided a model for understanding that this could be done in other places as well. … In 1973, according to a "smoke-free transportation chronology" by Americans for Nonsmokers Rights, the Civil Aeronautics Board implemented a requirement for separate smoking and non-smoking sections on airplanes. …

Flight Attendant Union Continues to Push for Better Air Quality
NEWS.GNOM.ES - February 24, 2015

WASHINGTON, Feb. 24, 2015 /NEWS.GNOM.ES/ - The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) is pushing for improved air quality in aircraft cabins to protect both the crew and the passengers. AFA International President Sara Nelson heads to London this week to steer the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) meeting on cabin air quality. …

Flight attendants, Sen. Durbin mark 25th anniversary of law banning smoking on flights
Daily Journal - February 24, 2015

Members of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA on Monday met Sen. ... She says her years of working on smoky flights make her more susceptible to ...

Flight attendants celebrate 25 years of smoke-free flights - February 24, 2015

Flight attendants urged the National Academy of Sciences in 1986 to study the effects of in-flight smoking. Moe Kerrigan says the study ...

What Flying Was Like Before the Smoke Cleared
NDTV - February 24, 2015

Today, virtually every commercial flight in the world is smoke-free. ... We really were the tipping point that allowed for smoke-free workplaces in this country.

Anniversary of Smoking Bill [AUDIO]
Alton Daily News - February 24, 2015

25 years ago, smoking was outlawed on commercial flights, thanks to legislation from an Illinois politician. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), then a congressman from Springfield, sponsored the commercial airline smoking ban law, which went into effect February 23, 1990. He says the significance of the ban is only apparent now. …

What Flying Was Like Before the Smoke Cleared
New York Times - February 23, 2015

IF you think the air travel experience generally stinks now, consider what it was like before smoking was banned on domestic flights 25 years ago. ...

Durbin marks anniversary of ban on smoking in US commercial airplanes
WLS-TV| abc7 - February 23, 2015

CHICAGO (WLS) -- This week marks the 25th anniversary of legislation that banned smoking on U.S. commercial airplanes. … "I was told I didn't have a chance. The tobacco lobby was just too strong. But I decided to test it and with support from a number of my colleagues got it to a vote on the floor of the House of the Representatives," Durbin said. …

Senator, health advocates celebrate 25 years of no smoking on US flights
The Keene Sentinel - February 23, 2015

CHICAGO - It has been 25 years since American Airlines flight attendant Jena Olsen waded through clouds of cigarette smoke on an airplane. … E-cigarettes look like cigarettes, but are battery-operated and heat a liquid that contains nicotine, according to the Mayo Clinic. Unlike the smoke exhaled from a ...

Sen. Durbin celebrates 25 years of smoke free flights [VIDEO]
MyFox Chicago - February 23, 2015

It's been 25 years since passengers have been able to light up a cigarette on commercial flights. Illinois senator Dick Durbin sparked the change as a ...

Smoke on a Plane: E-Cigarettes Ignite Controversy
Yahoo! Travel - August 19, 2014

here is new controversy over the use of electronic cigarettes on airplanes — but this time instead of it being about the health effects of the “vaping” on fellow passengers, it’s about fire safety. After an e-cigarette burned a hole in a passenger’s checked luggage at Logan International Airport in Boston, airport officials are calling for federal officials to classify the devices as hazardous materials, according to The New York Times.

US lawmakers urge ban on e-cigarettes on airplanes
Chicago Tribune (blog) - June 11, 2014

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - E-cigarette use should be banned on domestic flights and those to or from the United States, seven U.S. senators said on Tuesday in a letter urging the Department of Transportation to finalize rules proposed almost three years ago...

Indy airport board bans e-cigarettes - March 21, 2014

1 hour ago - INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indianapolis Airport Authority on Friday amended its ... the buildings and vehicles owned by the Indianapolis International Airport. The airport had already banned the use of traditional cigarettes, ...

Use of e-cigarettes prohibited at Indianapolis International Airport
Fox 59 ?- March 21, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 21, 2014)—An expanded smoking ordinance approved by the Indianapolis Airport Authority Board of Directors will ...

Smoking may be banned on Airport campus
WALB-TV - March 15, 2013

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Smokers may soon have to put out their cigarettes before they even get to the parking lot at Albany's airport. Southwest Georgia Regional Airport is considering a ban on smoking anywhere on its property. The airport director and other officials will discuss the proposed ban during the aviation commission meeting next week. But not everyone's thrilled about the potential changes. Smoking is already prohibited inside airport terminal, but policy makers are discussing the benefits of an outdoor ban as well. If the proposal passes, no one will be able to smoke anywhere on the airport's property. …

Most major US airports that allow smoking won't kick the habit – January 18, 2013

Smoking is still allowed in specific areas at the five major U.S. airports detailed in a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that showed air pollution levels that are significantly higher than those at non-smoking airports. … "In general, smoking is limited to a handful of hub airports," said Bronson Frick, associate director of Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights. "The list is pretty small. Ten years ago, smoke-free airports were something of an anomaly." …

Only one smoking lounge remains open at Denver International Airport; 3 closed in 2012
The Denver Channel – January 14, 2013

DENVER - Three smoking lounges at Denver International Airport closed in 2012. … According to a news release from Denver International Airport, the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation says 27 of the top 35 U.S. airports are 100 percent smoke-free indoors. …

CDC Study Pinpoints Airport Smoking Areas' Pollution Levels
Occupational Health and Safety - November 26, 2012

…People passing by, cleaning, or working near designated smoking areas in five large U.S. airports are exposed to secondhand smoke, according to the study. …

Flying Over the Holidays? Secondhand Smoke Still Poses Health Risk at Some Airports
TIME Magazine - November 21, 2012

But according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC), even those steps can expose those passing by to unwanted second-hand smoke. Just outside those smoking areas, average air pollution levels caused by secondhand smoke …

No butts about it: Fewer US airports allow smoking
USA TODAY - June 5, 2012

... According to the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation, indoor smoking is completely banned at 27 of the 35 busiest US airports. ...

Denver International Airport to phase out indoor smoking, May 18, 2012

Denver International Airport is on its way to becoming smoke-free. ... "The smoking rooms and ventilation systems don't protect people from the effects of second-hand smoke," Bronson Frick, associate director for Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights said. "This is about everyone's right to breathe clean-indoor air." As of April, 27 of the top 35 U.S. airports are 100 percent smoke-free indoors, according to the American Non-Smokers Rights Foundation. ...

Fate of airport smoking lounges a community matter
CNN International, March 25, 2011

… But ventilation systems do not eliminate the hazards of second-hand smoke, a 2006 Surgeon General's report found, leading public health advocacy groups to support a zero tolerance policy.

"We're optimistic that the trend is still going toward 100% smoke free, like the airlines. The question is who will be the last?" said Cynthia Hallet, executive director of Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, a California-based lobbying group. "The bottom line is this is a health issue. We know what smoking and second-hand smoke can do to us, and the safest policy is a smoke-free policy."

Hallet said she would like to "see some leadership" on the issue from the nation's busiest airport. Instead, Atlanta's airport takes the lead in the number of airport smoking lounges, 11 spread out over 6 concourses, in the name of customer service. …

SFO bans solicitors at airport, cuts down on smoking sites
San Francisco Examiner - Will Reisman - March 2, 2011

SFO has moved to ban solicitation and also made it more difficult for smokers to light up at the airport.

Separate proposals to outlaw solicitation and ban smoking at outdoor sections of the hub were passed unanimously Tuesday by the San Francisco Airport Commission. ...

Use of e-cigs not allowed on US flights
The State, Fri, Feb 11, 2011

RICHMOND, Va. — The U.S. Department of Transportation says the use of smokeless electronic cigarettes on airplanes is prohibited and plans to issue an official ban this spring, according to a letter from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood obtained by The Associated Press.

In the letter to Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, LaHood said the department has been informing airlines and the public that it interprets smoking regulations to include e-cigarettes. Lautenberg, who wrote the 1987 law that banned smoking on airplanes, had asked transportation officials to clarify the rule.

E-cigarettes are plastic and metal devices that heat a liquid nicotine solution in a disposable cartridge, creating vapor that the "smoker" inhales. A tiny light on the tip even glows like a real cigarette. They have prompted debate over how risky they are and whether they're even legal ...

CDC: Air Travelers at Risk From Secondhand Smoke - Stephanie Pappas - November 18, 2010

Overenthusiastic Transportation Security Administration pat-downs aren't your only travel worry this holiday season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A new report by the agency finds that one in four of the largest U.S. airports still allows smoking indoors, potentially exposing travelers and workers to disease-causing secondhand smoke.

The findings, published today in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, reveal an unnecessary risk, according to CDC director Thomas Friedan. Secondhand smoke has been linked to heart attacks, lung cancer and asthma attacks, among other ailments. [Read: How Bad is Secondhand Smoke?]

"Every year, millions of people who travel through and work at these airports are unnecessarily exposed to secondhand smoke," Friedan said in a statement. "Even ventilated smoking rooms do not eliminate secondhand smoke exposure. Eliminating smoking at airports is the only way to fully eliminate exposure." ...

CDC: seven large airports still allow indoor smoking
USA Today - Roger Yu - November 18, 2010

Seven of the largest U.S. airports still allow smoking indoors, exposing travelers to secondhand smoke, says a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study cites the following large airports that allow smoking in designated smoking rooms, bars or airline clubs: Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Las Vegas, Charlotte, Washington Dulles and Salt Lake City. The airports account for about 22% U.S. passenger boardings.

"Every year, millions of people who travel through and work at these airports are unnecessarily exposed to secondhand smoke," says CDC Director Thomas Frieden in a statement, released in part to promote the Great American Smokeout day on Thursday. "Even ventilated smoking rooms do not eliminate secondhand smoke exposure. Eliminating smoking at airports is the only way to fully eliminate exposure for people who pass into and through airports." ...

Report calls out McCarran as more airports go smoke-free
Las Vegas Sun - Richard N. Velotta - November 18, 2010

A report issued today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns of the dangers of second-hand smoke at public airports and calls attention to McCarran International Airport as one of seven large-hub airports that have indoor smoking areas.

The report says there are more smoke-free airports today than the last time the CDC did a similar report in 2002. Of the 29 largest airports, 22 of them, 76 percent, are smoke-free. In 2002, when the agency studied 31 airports, 13 of them – 42 percent – did not allow smoking.

The report also said 23 of 29 airports have designated outdoor smoking areas compared with 21 of 31 in 2002. Twenty of 29 airports require smokers to be a minimum distance from entrances to airport buildings today while 19 of 31 had that requirement in 2002. ...