Sunday, September 03, 2000

Delta's hub at N.Ky. airport targeted in smoking complaint

Activists claim discrimination against disabled

The Associated Press

        HEBRON, Ky. — Two anti-smoking activists have asked the federal government to revoke Delta Air Lines' air carrier certificate because they say the airline intentionally discriminates against people with disabilities caused by tobacco smoke.

        The complaint filed Friday with the U.S. Department of Transportation targets Delta facilities at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, where smoking is allowed in bars, restaurants and separately ventilated rooms for smokers.

        In their complaint, Billy Williams of Lewisville, Texas, and Patricia Young of Dallas say that Delta violates federal law by failing to make its facilities at the airport accessible to people with disabilities related to tobacco smoke. Separate rooms for smokers won't make the airport accessible to people who are sensitive to smoke, the complaint says.

        Delta is the dominant airline at the airport. Along with its subsidiary Comair, Delta handles more than 90 percent of the passengers who use the airport.

        Mr. Williams, a retired employee of Pan American World Airways, says a complete smoking ban is the only way to protect people such as himself who have allergies or other illnesses aggravated by tobacco smoke.

        “Those smoking rooms don't work,” he said.

        Ms. Young, a flight attendant for American Airlines, said she avoids flying to the airport and other airports that don't ban smoking.

Smoking rooms
               Delta spokeswoman Cindi Kurczewski said Friday that she had no comment on the complaint because Delta officials had not seen it.

        A recording Saturday at Delta's headquarters in Atlanta said the offices were closed for the weekend.

        U.S. Department of Transportation offices also were closed for the weekend.

        Delta, the Kenton County Airport Board and Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. have agreed to spend $750,000 to build the smoking rooms at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport. Three have opened, and five are expected to open by the end of the year.

        Airport spokesman Ted Bushelman said Saturday that the airport spent a lot of time and money to ensure that the smoking rooms are designed correctly.

        “Our feeling is that a smoking room should be designed so that a non-smoker can walk in and not be affected by smoke, and that's what we have done,” he said.


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