News & Comment

Belfast airport introduces smoking fee

Tue 3rd May, 2011

Passengers at Belfast International Airport have to pay £1 if they want to smoke a cigarette before boarding their flight. 

Smokers are asked to put a coin into a machine which opens doors to a special smoking area. 

The move was criticised by some people including outgoing Assemblywoman Dawn Purvis, a former smoker, who described it as “ridiculous”.

She said: “I used to smoke before I got on a flight and it used to calm me down. Most people who smoke know, it’s going to be a long time before they get another smoke, so they go for a puff before they get on the plane.

“I also think they are taking advantage of people’s anxiety before they fly because some people have a smoke before they fly to calm them down. It’s also an extra charge on people at the airport.”

The airport is said to be the first to introduce such a charge. In a statement bosses said: "We recognised that there was a demand for a smoking facility from some customers given that all public places (including airports) are now, and have been for a number of years, non-smoking.

"We are responding to that demand, however providing a specialist facility for a relatively small number of users is expensive to build and to maintain, so it is not unreasonable that a small charge should be levied for the use of the facility.

"However the charge is for an additional facility in the airside area of the airport, allowing passengers to have a smoke before boarding their aircraft should they wish to do so. Customers who do not want to pay can smoke at the designated smoking areas at the front of the terminal building."

Sources: UTVBBC News (3 May 2011)
Belfast Telegraph (3 May 2011)

Update: Forest spokesman Paul Rowlandson said:

"Belfast International Airport is to be commended for making an attempt to accommodate the interests of smokers as well as non-smokers. 

"It is encouraging that Belfast International is making provision for travelling smokers.The fact that smokers will be partially exposed to the outside elements is not the fault of the airport. It is a requirement of the unreasonable legislation which governs the provision and construction of areas where people may smoke.

"The modest charge of £1 for entry to the smoking room seems fair, providing that the charges go towards the maintenance of the smoking facility, as the airport assures us they will. At some other airports one can pay £40 for entry to a VIP lounge, but still be unable to smoke.

"We congratulate Belfast International on their initiative."

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