Several U.S. cities have recently passed ordinances that prohibit smoking in public transportation facilities, including train stations, bus shelters and ticket, boarding and waiting areas.
In Chicago, a new city ordinance makes smoking illegal in transit stations throughout the city, except in a few designated areas. The ordinance affects the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra commuter rail, the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD), Amtrak and various other operating agencies.
The Clean Indoor Air Ordinance also includes the city’s largest transit hub, Union Station. Train platforms, the food court and anywhere within 15 feet of the building’s exterior entrances are now off-limits for smokers. Smoking is only permitted in a portion of a café and tavern.
“We think it’s a great idea,” said John Parsons, spokesperson for NICTD, which operates trains that stop in Union Station. “We have received complaints in the past from passengers who were bothered by smoking, and [smoking] also creates a litter problem on the platforms and on the track beds.”
Similarly, the San Mateo (Calif.) County Transit District, which co-governs the San Francisco Bay Area’s commuter rail network, Caltrain, recently passed an ordinance outlawing smoking in its transit stations.
The agency’s board also voted to place “No smoking” signs in all of the district’s 208 bus shelters.
Violators of the Chicago ordinance could be fined up to $100. In San Mateo, local law enforcement officers can cite violators.
Other states, including New Jersey and Colorado, are currently considering state smoking bans that would include public transportation facilities.
Banning smoking in stations and facilities continues the anti-smoking trend that was launched in 1987 when the U.S. Senate passed legislation that outlawed smoking on airplanes, trains, buses and all other rapid transit passenger vehicles.