Thursday, April 23, 2009

In my lifetime

We've gone from smoking on most major airline flights to, in most states worth living in (come on, Wisconsin), no smoking in any public space.

Just twenty-one years ago today, Northwest took the "bold move" of banning smoking on all domestic flights. At that point a national ban had passed on flights under two hours, but it was thought to deprive smokers of their nicotine on longer flights was not just. Or something.

It started a cascade of sense: by 1990 the ban was extended to domestic flights under six hours (pretty much all, except some to Hawai'i), in 1995 Delta becomes the first airline to go smokefree worldwide and by 2000 it was law that all flights to and from the US were smoke-free. Now a generation of flyers have grown up in smoke free airplanes, and while the air is stale and dry, at least it's not smokin'.

Today, in most states you can't smoke in a bar, workplace or restaurant, you can't smoke on an airplane anywhere ever, virtually all airlines worldwide are smoke-free (heck, you can't even carry a lighter aboard) and the rest of the world is moving in the right direction. I can't say I remember smoky airplanes, but when I go to a bar in a non-smoke-free state (Wisconsin, Pennsylvania) I am surprised, and repulsed.

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