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You want to smoke? That'll be £1, please

Not everyone is going to be happy with this but you can't please everyone.

Earlier this week Forest was contacted by BBC Radio Ulster and Five Live. They wanted our response to a story that Belfast International Airport is charging smokers £1 to use a designated smoking area while they are waiting to board their flights.

Before we had even conferred, Paul Rowlandson, our Northern Ireland spokesman, and I had come to the same conclusion: we didn't think it was a big issue. In fact, we welcomed it on the grounds that at least Belfast Airport was giving consideration to smokers.

Anyway, that's what we told the BBC in London and Belfast and we never heard back. It wasn't the response they were expecting!

(This, btw, gives you some idea of how the media operates. If you don't fit in with their preconceived 'angle' they won't use you. It's not the first time it's happened and it won't be the last but we're not going to say something we don't agree with just to get airtime.)

So, if you want our response you'll have to read the Daily Mail:

Although the move is unlikely to please some smokers, it has gone down surprisingly well with pro-smoking organisation Forest, which has welcomed the move. Spokesperson Paul Rowlandson said it "congratulated" the airport:

"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.

Rowlandson continued: '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."

Sorry if that's not what some of you want to hear but I believe it to be a reasonable, measured response.

What we don't want is airports banning smoking completely.

Full story: Belfast International Airport charges smokers a £1 to light up before jetting away (Daily Mail)

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Reader Comments (13)

Perhaps it could be introduced in NHS hospitals to raise revenue as an alternative to a total ban...

Friday, May 6, 2011 at 14:42 | Unregistered CommenterCurmudgeon

How much does it cost to maintain a small wire cage? Considerably less than a heated, air-conditioned departure lounge with comfortable seats. Manchester airport has had a free smoking cage beyond passport control for two years now. It is free at the moment, but has been made deliberately unpleasant. The wire mesh is so fine the view is completely obscured. Let's face it, they put the smoking cage in because of the grief they were getting when flights were delayed and they have seen a way of making money out of it. I don't even think it will be profitable. Most smokers will be so resentful they will spend at least a pound less in the airport shops and cafes.

Friday, May 6, 2011 at 15:01 | Unregistered CommenterJon

Newcastle has had one for a while, now accessed via one of the bar,s. There is no charge BUT you must buy something at that particular bar in order to use it and you can take a drink out with you if you wish.
My own view is that many smokers were not going through passport control till the very last minute preferring to be able to go outside, and therefore not spending anything in the bars/ shops.
I think the important thing to look at is that they admit that there is a demand for it.
When the smoking ban first appeared I dont think there were any facilities for smokers at any Airport in the UK.

Friday, May 6, 2011 at 15:41 | Unregistered Commentersheila

Again the poor suffer while the rich can easily afford it. One word. Bastards!

Friday, May 6, 2011 at 15:56 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Once the £1 has been inserted can a group all get in the cage for that £1?

Friday, May 6, 2011 at 16:57 | Unregistered Commenterchas

The more I've thought about it, the less I can understand Rowlandson saying the charge is fair. Everyone going through an airport can sit down for free beyond passport control in a seat in a heated room. I 've never met anyone who pays £40 to go in a VIP lounge. What a strange comparison. He thinks the charges will be put in a separate account to maintain the smoking area. Is Is he for real? It's a wire cage with a concrete floor. It costs nothing to maintain. At a guess, I'd say Rowlandson is either not a smoker, or has more money than sense. He's done smokers a huge disfavour. If Manchester starts charging for its wire cage, we'll know who to blame. If FOREST doesn't want to stand up for smokers, it should say nothing. £1 for 10 minutes is not a fair charge.
Sheila makes a good point about people not going through passport control, but I think it's worse than that. I no longer spend anything inside the airport and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Friday, May 6, 2011 at 17:08 | Unregistered CommenterJon

A small wire cage? I wonder how much they'll charge people to watch the smokers? commentary by Desmond Morris?

Friday, May 6, 2011 at 17:23 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

It rather looks to me like another step in the denormalisation process. The "dirty" room. I remember the old (Don Muang) airport at Bangkok had these horrible little smoking booths airside that stank. Even after a long haul, I preferred to wait until I'd cleared customs and immigration, find a nice little bar and sit down with a coffee or beer and a fag.

Now if they had these dotted around airports, I'd happily pay a quid to use it.

Friday, May 6, 2011 at 17:46 | Unregistered Commenternisakiman

Shame they couldn't be as good as Bournemouth Airport who have a free airside smoking area at no cost to use and no purchase necessary as not linked to a bar.

Friday, May 6, 2011 at 18:38 | Unregistered CommenterAJ

On this occasion you are free to enter the room but must pay to leave, but look on the bright side .. further proof that you will not die as a result of second hand smoke which was the only reason given by UK Governments for the introduction of the ban.

Friday, May 6, 2011 at 18:50 | Unregistered CommenterBill Gibson

"...we welcomed it on the grounds that at least Belfast Airport was giving consideration to smokers."
"What we don't want is airports banning smoking completely."

Alicante have a brand spanking new state of the art air terminal, the older terminals have been closed.
There was an 'unofficial' smoking area in the old airport. They couldn't have an 'official' one as the building was fully enclosed. The 'smoking area' was called 'gate 11'. There was actually no gate 11, the first terminal ended at 10, and the extension began at 12. 'Gate 11' was a dead area where, previous to January 2nd 2011, passengers and staff went for a smoke.

Of course, when the architects designed the impressive new Alicante Airport, they included in their design a secure area where passengers and staff could smoke................?

Friday, May 6, 2011 at 23:12 | Unregistered Commentertimbone


Wednesday, June 8, 2011 at 10:24 | Unregistered Commenterhelen

helen, my closing unfinished sentence was sarcastic rhetoric, no, there is no official and certainly no unofficial smoking area at the new Alicante terminal

Wednesday, June 8, 2011 at 19:43 | Unregistered Commentertimbone

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