Search this site:


March 31, 2006 12:03 AM

Broken: Gatwick airport smoking area

GatwickaiportBen Civiletti points this out from London's Gatwick airport:

Instead of putting the designated smoking area in a far corner of the building, they put it right in the middle of the checkout area. On top of that, they also put it 20 feet away from the children's play area.

If you can't see it clearly, the sign says:

"Children's play area"
"Ages 2 - 6 only"
"Parental supervision essential as the play area is not supervised by our staff"
"No food, drink or chewing gum"
"Remove shoes but wear socks at all times"
"No liability accepted for any losses, damage or theft"

What about the poisonous smoke billowing from the "Smoking area," which is less than 20 feet away?


its easier to find kids when theyre coughing

Posted by: gmangw at March 31, 2006 12:28 AM

gmangw... Dang you! I Came so close to being "FIRST" :)

Posted by: Timm at March 31, 2006 12:31 AM

Actually, that plastic barrier goes right the way around the smokers enclosure and there is ventilation in there that draws the smoke out. All you get standing even a foot outside is the disgusting sight of the smokers desparately sucking on their cigarettes surrounded by a horrible fug of smoke. When one comes out, you can smell the nicotine on them quite clearly, but you don't get any smoke. The kids are totally clear of it, so not broken.

Posted by: Niki at March 31, 2006 01:30 AM

sure is convenient for all those young smokers....

Posted by: clark at March 31, 2006 01:50 AM

Timm, you're still an ass. (See the chocolate fountain comments. March, 2006)

Posted by: This isn't a fake name at March 31, 2006 02:13 AM

the hostility and self-righteousness of many non-smokers (usually Americans) disgusts me far more than smoking.

Smokers are people, who have effectively been suckered by mega-corporations (usually American) into addiction. A transatlantic (or longer) non-smoking flight can be an absolute nightmare for a smoker, difficult for others to comprehend. Airports are stressful places, and stress enhances the desire to smoke. And smokers even sometimes (gasp!) have children. I actually find this arrangement an uncharacteristically humane compromise.

I'm a lifelong non-smoker by the way, and I totally agree about the smell and smoke. But I also believe in compromise and tolerance.

In short, there is nothing broken about this sign. Not so sure about the site though... A lot of "broken" stuff here would fit better under "I can't be bothered to understand it or work it out, or think outside of my heavily blinkered perspective".

Posted by: David Mantripp at March 31, 2006 04:02 AM

Drop Dead

Posted by: Astroboy at March 31, 2006 07:36 AM

Even without the smoke-tent, it still isn't close enough for the smoke to reach the kids. Double extra-crunchy super Not Broken.

Btw, who does Astroboy want to drop dead?

Posted by: Bob at March 31, 2006 08:05 AM

>Cough, cough, snort! hack! Yeah, (sniff) let me >get my fingers into some of that there yummy >chocolate. "cough"

>Posted by: Timm at Mar 6, 2006 5:45:08 AM


He's an ass.

Posted by: Bob at March 31, 2006 08:09 AM

Kids = owned.

Posted by: game kid at March 31, 2006 09:56 AM

What about all the mixed-up shoes over in the childrens' area?

Posted by: Mr.Mike at March 31, 2006 10:00 AM

What, exactly, is an "ariport"???

Posted by: englishteacher at March 31, 2006 10:26 AM

Hey, I found something broken on this site called "This is broken"...yah, guess this site IS broken!! lol

Posted by: johvanni at March 31, 2006 10:37 AM

A+++ to "This Is Broken" for prompt typo correction :-)

Posted by: englishteacher at March 31, 2006 11:08 AM

It's those lying "truth" commercials that make bullshit statements like "second-hand smoke is more dangerous than smoking" and rally up the well-meaning liberals in this country against smoking anytime, anywhere... my real favorite are the radio commercials that are so disgusting that they make you retch just listening to them. (Hey assholes, kissing a smoker is most assuredly NOT worse than rooting through rotting meat with your mouth.)

It doesn't help that whenever a town or county tries to completely ban smoking the ACLU springs up and supports the decision 100% percent, ignoring, of course, that the banning of smoking in public places is a restriction of our civil liberities.

Maybe after losing so much ground politically the Democrats are going to finally figure it out and make some sensible choices... but I wouldn't count on it.

Posted by: James Schend at March 31, 2006 11:41 AM

Zenlike, I pronounce this both "broken" and "not broken."

Broken, because there are a significant number of people who believe quite firmly that exposure to even a single molecule of tobacco smoke inevitably leads to slow, lingering death. (To hear some of them, you'd think if we could only eliminate cigarettes, nobody would ever have to die of anything, ever.) For these people, having a smoking area anywhere at all is unforgiveable, let alone somewhere they can see it. So, from their perspective it's broken.

Not broken, because there are also a significant number of people who don't think the occasional whiff of burning plant is going to cause much more harm than, say, all the jet fuel exhaust that you're going to be exposed to at the airport. (Or for that matter, the auto exhaust that you encounter every day on a city street.) For these people, who don't believe that smokers should be punished by being banished to "a far corner of the building", this is not broken.

Personally, I think a ventilated, separate smoking space in a convenient location is a fair compromise. But I know that there are large numbers of people, on both sides of the issue, who will disagree with me. Until they make tobacco outright illegal (which I don't agree with, but see as being inevitable -- and by the way, junk food is next), I don't think there will be a good solution.

Posted by: E.T. at March 31, 2006 11:46 AM

It seems that although the children can't eat or drink there is no prohibition on them smoking.

Posted by: artclam at March 31, 2006 11:48 AM

I can't believe this is even posted here. I'm not a smoker, and I like kids, but come on... get real!

Posted by: JP at March 31, 2006 11:54 AM

This is DEFINITELY not broken. As Niki says, there is a barrier around the area and they have vacuum devices and deionizers around the area. I'm not a smoker and most smoke does bother me, but I sat right outside the area and not a whiff of smoke...

Posted by: RT at March 31, 2006 12:10 PM

You know what's really broken? Ethnocentrism. Americans are always blamed for it, but my experience has always been (online, at least) that Europeans are far more ethnocentric than I've ever seen Americans to be. And David Mantripp has been guilty of that on this page.

Also broken is smoker pride. You're killing yourself; don't force that on us, too. James Schend gets this award. I appreciate freedom, too. My freedom to breathe clean air, and my children's freedom to grow up without asthma. Do I also appreciate your freedom to smoke? You betcha. I view it like driving a car- you can't do that in public places, where it could harm others. Be tolerant, and support other points of view.

As for the actual point of this topic? Not broken, for my money. Assuming the smoking area is, in fact, essentially airtight and well-ventilated, it just seems like the airport chose the most convenient places to put both. Some fliers have kids who want to play, and some fliers want to smoke. In order to keep these customers happy, they place them both in a well-accessible place.

All right, cue the hate replies.

Posted by: =David at March 31, 2006 12:37 PM

I miss the good old days when smoking was actually good for you!

As for Ethnocentrism this probably isn't the forum for it but I can't help but comment how funny Lou Dobbs looked on CNN yesterday complaining about Mexicans LIVE from Cancun! Now that's broken (but hilarious!)

Posted by: funnybone at March 31, 2006 01:20 PM

Being a smoker (obviously a heavy sinner and doomed to death) I am seeing the results of personal liberties taken away. Drunks in bars in Texas are being arrested. Good. Drunks driving cars usually account for immediate deaths. Thank God no one had to smell smoke. The very things we cherish about live, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is slowly slipping away. I do not know of any non-smoker who is still living to be 150 or even 100 years old. Lo and behold, some smokers live to be in their 100ds. Why not try some tolerance! Oh, I forgot. Non-smokers are pure in every way. Good for Gatwick Airport and other airport executives who understand that all persons have rights. Not just the "just" of the world.

Posted by: P.Qualls at March 31, 2006 01:34 PM

Get a Life! Oh!,and Leave me alone.

Posted by: Jim Birsen at March 31, 2006 01:49 PM

I once saw a turd on a Wendy's playground. That's right, a human turd. You guys should've seen my wife trying to tell the cashier about it! A playground isn't exactly a safety haven, and kids get exposed to worse riding the bus to school in the morning. It appears the airport has the smokers confined in a plexiglass shell, and there doesn't appear to be a bar-haze of airborne carcinogen "billowing" out into the terminal. What's the problem?

As for the broader ethnocentrism argument, this definitely isn't the forum, but I love a good debate and can't help myself. I've never met anyone who started smoking because Joe Camel told them to. Although I'm long quit, I began smoking in high school because several of my friends did. I've met both arrogant aholes and really nice people on both sides of the Atlantic. I can't imagine how any intelligent person could make a statement classifying all or most of the people in a continent or country as anything. It's not any different from the self-fulfilling prejudice and discrimination against Jews, Arabs, or people of African descent.

Posted by: Ron Mexico at March 31, 2006 01:58 PM

Hmmm. Someone recommended this website to me. Looks like some of the actual entries are amusing but what lame comments on this page - what a bunch of whiners.

Posted by: 1--1 at March 31, 2006 01:59 PM

Except for that last comment, which was not there while I was typing.

Posted by: 1--1 at March 31, 2006 02:00 PM

Anyone ever heard of the popular British entertainer Roy Castle? He died of what appeared to be smoking related lung cancer a few years ago. A life-long non-smoker, his early career was as a trumpet player (a darn good one I might add) in smoke filled jazz clubs in London.

Posted by: ukexpat at March 31, 2006 02:05 PM

P. Qualls... do something for me. Take your post up there, print it really big (but maybe edit the obvious mistakes first), and pack it away somewhere. Keep it your whole life, and keep smoking as well. Your reaction upon seeing it again in old age will be priceless.

Posted by: gmangw at March 31, 2006 02:50 PM

I don't smoke. But I'm also not an asshole about it, and I don't fall for that "truth" propaganda.

I also love that other nugget, that smoking causes asthma. How is that possible? Back in the 50s, everybody smoked and almost nobody was diagnosed with asthma... I'm sorry, but I'm not buying that one until I see a well-researched and neutral study on it.

(I actually saw a study from Japan a few years ago that theorized that the increase in asthma was due to the increase in the use of anti-biotic cleaning agents.)

My biggest complaint with smokers is that they throw they butts all over the place and never pick them up and put them in the trash.

Posted by: James Schend at March 31, 2006 04:41 PM

It all boils down to this - Economics! If the everyone stopped smoking, drinking alcohol and driving, the country would go bankrupt.

If you need money, tax the "bad" smoker and tell him you want to save his life by getting him to quit. Or, slap more taxes on gasoline and liquor.

No one gives a hoot about your lungs or anything elses for that matter. It's all about power and money.

Posted by: Alex at March 31, 2006 05:09 PM

I once saw a man smoking in a no smoking area....I was going to go over and lecture him on his nasty habit, but I got stuck in booth and couldn't waddle after was so rude of him that I couldn't even enjoy my Double Whopper,large fries and Diet Coke....some people's habit are so unhealthy and disgusting.

Posted by: Bertha Butt at March 31, 2006 05:22 PM

This same idiot probably drives a car that puts out more smoke in 5 minutes than the entire smoking section does in a month.Wonder if their kids are allowed close to the car?

Posted by: steve at March 31, 2006 05:39 PM

I don't like smoke, but I don't care how much you smoke (the sooner you die, the sooner I move up the senority list!!!) but there should be a $50 deposit on each cigarette butt so the ASSHOLES who throw their butts on the ground would have to pay for the constant cleanup. Or better yet, you can't buy more cigarettes unless you turn in the filters from the previous carton. And if you throw it out your car window and hit me while I'm riding my motorcycle, we'll see how well you can smoke with 2 broken arms. I'll put you cigs up your ass so you'll have them for later. Besides, those little filtered cigarettes are for pussies. Real people smoke doobie, and no filter!

And that's MISTER asshole to you.

Posted by: Paul at March 31, 2006 08:28 PM


And I suppose that makes you a righteous individual to complain about humour you fail to understand.


Isn’t this a forum to discuss things that are already broken, instead of shouting at each other pretending that pointing fingers really accomplishes anything?

From the looks of it, the tent does manage to contain most of the smoke. If it succeeds, then I agree that it’s a great decision of the airport owners to be considerate of others’ needs. Air diffuses through the smallest cracks, but without a photo less blurry I can’t judge the tent’s efficacy.

So from the looks of it, it ain’t Broken but actually Fixed.

Posted by: Olego at March 31, 2006 08:36 PM

=David said:

Do I also appreciate your freedom to smoke? You betcha. I view it like driving a car- you can't do that in public places, where it could harm others.

But... cars are almost always driven in public places, your drive and your garage being the exception (and I have found plenty worse in my garage than stale cigarette smoke). Let alone the NO2 and CO and heavy particulates emitted by cars daily, they take up acres of real estate and stop people enjoying either the public space consumed by the road itself or getting from one side to the other.

ukexpat, remember, not all lung cancer is caused by smoking. This is just a value-judgment, but I feel that the weight that is placed on the (undeniable) connection between smoking and increased rates of lung cancer does a disservice to those who die of lung cancer from other causes-- chiefly, from other cancers that then spread, as all untreated cancers will do.

Posted by: SimonTrew at March 31, 2006 08:44 PM

I will do one quick post about butts then try to get back to something really broken, AND on-topic.

I HATE dropped cigarette butts, simply from the point of view of litter. They biodegrade reasonably quicker (the plastication on the filters doesn't help) but there is no excuse for a smoker dropping a butt.. TAKE IT WITH YOU.

Q. What costs you money, makes your breath smell, injures your health, and you leave it all over pavement when you're done with it? A. Chewing-gum.

Posted by: SimonTrew at March 31, 2006 08:49 PM

Okay, now, THIS IS BROKEN.

Warnings on cigarette packets. Like we don't know already. (There. I admitted it. I smoke.)

They are useless in general, since you have to buy a pack to read them, and useless in particular. I make a hobby of buying them from various different countries (partly because they are so expensive in the UK). In Germany we have "Nicht Rauchen", a smoker's cough in itself, whereas in France we have "Fumer Tue", which sounds like pillow-talk in the right accent. In Belgium we get it in French, German and Dutch. I don't think yet in the UK we have it in Welsh, but it wouldn't surprise me, and that would sound like the sound AFTER a German cough. In Canada, home of my beloved, we have it in French and English, with pictures for the Newfies. Pictures of lungs and hearts.

NONE OF WHICH HAS EVER DONE ANY GOOD. IT IS BROKEN. Up 50% of the cigarette packet is taken up with warnings, and people STILL smoke. They KNOW it is bad for them. They BELIEVE (without much scientific evidence: dubya dubya dubya dot forest dot org) that it harms other people. No government dare ban it because of the taxes it raises-- it is worse, far worse, than Prohibition. It is a legal racket.

And with the pictures, I thnk you should play fair. None of your internal organs are very pretty, and it was very good of God to keep them on the inside. But if you are going to play that gambit, play it straight. Any product that advertises being good for your digestive system should have a picture of your digestive system on it. Same with the heart. Not a cutesy, charity-day heart, a real heart. (Oh and where people think their heart is is also broken-- still on-topic, you see.) YOUR OFFAL AND UMBLES IS NOT PLEASANT, PLEASE KEEP THEM INSIDE YOU.

Thank you.

Posted by: SimonTrew at March 31, 2006 09:03 PM

Modern life is bad for your health.

Cigs, alcohol, poor diet, inactivity, pollution etc etc etc...yet somehow people are living longer than ever before in the history of the human race. Coincidence?

Posted by: ~ at March 31, 2006 09:15 PM

Simon Trew wrote, "They KNOW it is bad for them. They BELIEVE (without much scientific evidence: dubya dubya dubya dot forest dot org) that it harms other people." What do log loaders and topsoil screens have to do with smoking?

Posted by: Corky at March 31, 2006 10:05 PM

Emergency flights for dying cancer patients would give a large boost to the airport's profits. They're just planning ahead!

Posted by: BlastYoBoots at March 31, 2006 10:11 PM

I am a smoker and do like to find those disgusting smoking rooms at the airport. What bothers me is that us smokers are considered losers.

I believe the alcohol problem in this world harms more people. It breaks up families, kills innocent people etc..but light us a cigarette and you are no better than a murderer.

No, a smoking room should not be by a children's play area but I think that most of the smoke is kept in the room.

Posted by: gunga at April 1, 2006 12:38 AM

Have none of you read the book called "Health Benefits of Tobacco"? (try Amazon) It actually helps with Asthma, Alzheimers and many more annoying diblitating situations. Written by a Canadian Doctor (I trust Canadians more than Americans) who has tried and tried to get through to the public about how the smoking has been used as Tax revenue and as a wedge vote mechanism to help the political party at the moment. Its as good as race or gender division. Evil nasty non-smokers should all be put on an island with nothing but the wind blowing. Try the book, it will really open your eyes. Remember ancient man lived next to the firepit and most of my neighbors do not care one wit about barbecue smoke wafting all over the place, but if my smoker friend lights a cigarette they are out on lawn screaming like banshees. They are disgusting bullies. I now call the police on them and the police tells them to shut up. Many happy puffs to all of you, help the children live without Asthma.

Posted by: terri at April 1, 2006 04:50 AM

I agree with Olego that the problem has been fixed; flying is stressful and the thought of a long flight without a cigarette must be a nightmare to some smokers, the sealed cabinet idea gives them the opportunity to stock up and fill their lungs for the arduous time ahead while still being able to keep an eye on thier kids, ensuring that they are not lost, stolen or broken.

My one issue with smokers (I am an ex-smoker btw) is that I hate eating in a restaurant where I am being overwhelmed by smoke. Gladly this will be fixed by the end of the year when the UK becomes non-smoking in public places, but I do sympathize with smokers, especially in pubs. They have the right to kill 'themselves', smell badly and how they spend their money, I just wish they would do it somewhere else.

Love the site.

Posted by: Hiemdallr at April 1, 2006 10:27 AM

For anyone interested in terri's advice, books and editorials by the same author include "The Healing Power of Light", "Exercise with Oxygen Therapy", "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: The Hidden Polio Epidemic", and "Sunscreen May Actually be Causing Skin Cancer". I'm reminded of the sound a duck makes...

Posted by: Pirelli at April 1, 2006 10:59 AM

Since there's a barrier around the smoking area this particular example is not broken.

You could take a picture of one of the trains still riding between Germany and the Netherlands with one coupe which has two small plastic barriers and a HUGE open doorway in the middle. On one side of the "barrier" you may smoke, on the other you may not. I think the barriers are there to stick the no-smoking signs on, and nothing else.

By the way: I think that people who blame their addiction on the companies and stores that sell cigarets are cowards. You were always the one that gave in to the addiction, and therefore the only one to blame for it.

Posted by: Maladignia at April 1, 2006 11:38 AM


Darn right. I am incredibly righteous.



Posted by: Bob at April 1, 2006 11:49 AM

Never mind, Olego. I have rethought my post and now realize that it is wrong to call someone an ass because I cannot comprehend their humor.

To everyone else, happy April First.

Posted by: Bob at April 1, 2006 11:51 AM

To all poor souls who have been brainwashed to think that smoking is good for you: Quit watching FOX News. Then stop smoking.

And yes, I did actually know that you watch FOX News.

Posted by: BlastYoBoots at April 2, 2006 11:55 PM

Arguments about smoker's rights, and whether or not smoking is unhealthy or not aside...

It is clear that a significant proportion of non-smokers don't like being in smoky environments. It is also clear that the main reason a lot of enclosed public environments (like airports) create 'smoking areas' is to minimize the exposure of the aforementioned people to smoke.

When these 'smoking areas' FAIL to minimize smoke exposure to non-smokers, then THEY ARE BROKEN, regardless of how we feel about whether it is good or bad to smoke, whether it is OK to smoke, whether we think smoke is unhealthy or not, etc. etc.

As an example, in the Frankfurt airport, there is a corridor that connects two busy terminals. In the middle of it is a 'smoking area' that isn't enclosed. That is broken, because it doesn't do anything to keep smoke away from non-smokers.

Posted by: Alex B at April 3, 2006 12:23 PM

It is amazing how easy it is to stop smoking after 40 years when the doctor shows you the results from your heart catheterization & starts talking about major surgery.........

I started smoking at age 16 because my best friend did. Guess if I cared what the govt had to say about the dangers of smoking (this is 1966)? I can actually remember thinking,"cool!" when the warnings that smoking MAY be bad for you started showing-up on cigarette packages (ah,youth...)!

During that 40 years of smoking, I experienced increasing social and legal constraints to my addiction, and I NEVER heard a sincere acknowledgement of the fact that I was truely addicted (the nicotine alkaloid is quite similar to the ones that makes up cocaine and caffeine, ya know). I found the "righteousness" displayed by non-smokers was in a class with religious zealots, with a similar lack of desire to try to reach a compromise, as they were right and I was wrong......

It was about this time that I ran across the phrase "the tyranny of the majority," which I found to be very apropo. The stats say that approx 25% of adults smoke, which, of course, makes them a minority. Consider, however, that if any OTHER minority that large was involved in something so controversial, there would be all kinds of outcries about how unfair the other 75% of the population was being towards that poor minority!

But hey, it feels so GOOD to feel righteous, don't it?

Posted by: G'Pa from Texas at April 3, 2006 01:39 PM

Ever stop to consider what would have happened if the FDA, etc, had declared nicotine an addictive substance? The Americans with Disabilities Act would have kicked-in and smokers would have been given the same protection as any other addict, that is: no discrimination allowed, employers would have to make allowances for the smoker (smoke breaks, a place to smoke that was convenient, etc), insurance would have to cover expenses of trying to quit, airports and other public places would have to have a place to smoke, and so on.... And they complained about the cost of putting in wheelchair ramps! I believe that the "big boys" made sure that would never happen, because, in the end, EVERYTHING boils down to money.

Posted by: G'Pa from Texas at April 3, 2006 01:50 PM

Ok - everyone here seems to be at least in their 40's. I'm not. I'm not going to say how old I am, for obvious reasons, but I simply have to say this. So... guess what they teach us in school nowadays? All about smoking and how bad it is for you. Yep, we have a whole unit on tobacco use, which lasts for about 3 weeks. Of course, by now, we all know about the dangers and risks involved with smoking. To be honest, after a while it gets so... irritating! We all understand what smoking does to you. In my generation, I highly doubt that there will be very many new smokers. Not trying to offend anybody, I'm just stating my opinion.

Posted by: This isn't a fake name at April 4, 2006 02:16 AM

BTW - Bob rules!

Timm sucks!

Posted by: This isn't a fake name at April 4, 2006 02:18 AM

Hmm... I'm curious. Do most people find out about this site from PopSci?

Posted by: This isn't a fake name at April 4, 2006 02:22 AM

Hey... I just took a closer look at the original picture. On the sign that reads, "Children's Play Area," I noticed something about it. At the bottom, it says, "No liability accepted for any losses, damage or theft." Now, I know better, but it sounds like it's referring to the children. BWAHAHAHAHA!

Posted by: This isn't a fake name at April 4, 2006 02:32 AM

As for this post I have to agree that if the enclosure keeps the smoke in then Not-Broken. It is also the enclosure's effectiveness and not just it's location that determines brokenness.

Posted by: Sean P at April 4, 2006 10:44 AM

What happend to the first two paragraphs of my post?

Anyways, I also found out about this site from PopSci.

Also as far as I have been able to tell there is a fairly wide range of age groups here.

Posted by: Sean P at April 4, 2006 10:48 AM

this isnt a fake- idk how old you are, but i'm in high school, and plenty of people are still starting to smoke, people who i know have gone through all the health class rigamarole. for good or bad though, marijuana is way more popular.

Posted by: gmangw at April 6, 2006 11:14 AM

I started smoking when I was 13. Still do. If i had been able to read the warning labels on the pack, I still would have started.

Posted by: Robert at April 12, 2006 08:26 PM

gmangw - where do u live? I'm in high school, and I don't know any. (and no, I'm not a total social outcast without friends. Really!) Point is, there might be different programs for each school. ...but don't you think that going through the smoking program every year is annoying?

Posted by: This isn't a fake name at April 18, 2006 01:32 AM

How come it looks like the sign is floating there?

Posted by: joe at April 22, 2006 03:14 PM

Comments on this entry are closed

Previous Posts: