Cigar Smoking Passenger Pollutes Plane

November 6, 2010

in Passenger Stories

Believe it or not, back in the sixties smoking cigarettes was allowed on airplanes in the United States. Passengers and flight staff would breath in polluted air and reek of smoke when they disembarked from the plane. Yet no one thought anything of it because so many people smoked back then. I think that cigar smoking, however, was frowned upon.

I was a kid then and remember boarding a U.S. flight during which a businessman who sat in front of me in the bulkhead row lit up a large cigar. Thick clouds of smoke filled the air as he puffed on the stogie. It wasn’t long before a flight attendant politely asked him to put the cigar out. The smoker ignored the request and kept puffing away. The FA asked him again to put it out. The smoker angrily refused to do so. Finally the FA sternly said to the smoker, “If you don’t put the cigar out you’ll be arrested when we land.” That got his attention and he extinguished the cigar.

Some years later the airlines started assigning designated smoking sections. It wasn’t until the 1980s that legislation was passed to ban smoking on domestic flights, although I believe it was only for flights of 2 hours or less.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Les November 6, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Just a related memory, but I was on a flight in France back in the 80's that had open seating, was less than 1/4 full, half the plane was marked smoking and half non-smoking ("Pas de Fumez"), and there was somebody smoking in the non-smoking section. Only cigarettes thankfully, but there were dozens of empty seats in the smoking section.


Dina November 7, 2010 at 10:58 am

My partner's mom is a former flight attendant who started flying during the smoking days. She got herself posted in first class mostly just to avoid the smoke!


Jason November 7, 2010 at 11:50 am

There was a study that found that flight attendants were being exposed to smoke levels similar to those received by a person who lived with a pack-a-day smoker. The study was used to help justify a ban on smoking in airplanes. Here's a link to a chronology of efforts to ban smoking in airplanes in the U.S.: Smokefree Transportation Chronology.


Dina November 8, 2010 at 11:04 am

Ick! I totally believe that study. 🙁


Miriam November 7, 2010 at 1:10 pm

The FA should have put the cigar out on top of that lout's head!


Bob November 8, 2010 at 5:12 am

This reminds me when I took a flight from London to Athens with Olympic airways in 2000. It was a few years before they ban smoking in all flights. The flight had a section a smoking section and a non smoking section. At least it's a good thing they banned smoking in all airlines because Apperantly someone died of second hand smoke in another Olympic Airways long haul flight in 1998.


James November 8, 2010 at 7:41 am

I recall flying Ansett Airlines in Australia in 1986, and they divided smoking and non-smoking by the aisle… effectively rendering the entire plane a smoking plane.


rerere November 8, 2010 at 10:22 am

This also poses a risk to the plane because if you throw it in the trash in the restroom, it can catch on fire.


Les November 8, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Exactly. It was speculated in the media that disposal of smoking materials was responsible for a fire that started in the lavatory of an Air Canada flight and killed 23 people. The plane made an emergency landing without most of its instrumentation.

See …



rerere November 8, 2010 at 1:38 pm

kind of the same here, except a different story. Nicotine found its way into the doubler plates causing fatigue


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