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Smoking On Board


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#1 Reno89502

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 04:36 PM

So I just got back from my vacation from HBG to NOL. I am a smoker, and I am used to the smoke stops that Amtrak has, and I don't have a problem with it. But what I am curious about is why Amtrak employees are allowed to smoke on board? I was in my sleeper car and I asked the conductor if I could step off the train at the next stop to have a cigarette (We were to be at the station for 13 minutes), and he told me in a stern voice NO. Of course while he was telling me this he reaked of smoke. Now he didn't reak of smoke when I ran into him 10 minutes earlier, but he sure did now!

The other thing is why do Amtrak conductors tell people that smoking on board is illegal? If it was illegal, they wouldn't allow smoking on-board the Auto Train.

#2 ParrotRob

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 05:03 PM

The other thing is why do Amtrak conductors tell people that smoking on board is illegal? If it was illegal, they wouldn't allow smoking on-board the Auto Train.



Not true. The Auto Train has a specially isolated smoking area. Smoking outside of that area is illegal. If your train doesn't have a dedicated and isolated smoking area, which it doesn't, then it is, in fact, illegal to smoke on board.

It's no different than a restaurant or bar - if there's a dedicated smoking area it's legal in that area. But if there isn't one and your waiter tells you it's illegal to smoke, he's correct.

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 05:22 PM

Both Amtrak policy and federal law prohibit smoking, except for that one Auto Train room. However, employees can REGULARLY be found smoking in the dining car kitchen (on Superliners), as well as in the baggage car and even in the dorm car, if they think they can get away with it. It endangers the health and safety of all aboard the train, but repeated complaints to management haven't even gotten a general memo sent out to crew bases. I do know, however, of at least two employees who are having serious secondary-smoke-related health issues that they are considering suing Amtrak over.

#4 RRUserious

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 10:22 PM

Have you tried the e-cigarette? The Empire Builder specifically told smokers "this stop is l ong enough for a smoke". So it isn't like Amtrak is flipping off smokers. They seem quite cooperative. I always thought Canada's approach was better (not trains, restaurants). In every restaurant I went to in Toronto, there was a closed room dedicated to having a smoke. So they weren't freezing their tush in the winter months like they do here in the USA. I wonder if it is technologically so difficult to have a "smoking car". Maybe charge a few extra bucks for admission. With the price of smokes nowadays, I don't see smokers as an impoverished class.

#5 ParrotRob

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 10:25 PM

Have you tried the e-cigarette? The Empire Builder specifically told smokers "this stop is l ong enough for a smoke". So it isn't like Amtrak is flipping off smokers. They seem quite cooperative. I always thought Canada's approach was better (not trains, restaurants). In every restaurant I went to in Toronto, there was a closed room dedicated to having a smoke. So they weren't freezing their tush in the winter months like they do here in the USA. I wonder if it is technologically so difficult to have a "smoking car". Maybe charge a few extra bucks for admission. With the price of smokes nowadays, I don't see smokers as an impoverished class.


Not sure if you meant on-board or not, but e-cigarettes are not allowed on board either.

All Amtrak trains, Thruway buses and stations are entirely non-smoking except for the Auto Train.

  • Electronic smoking devices, such as electronic cigarettes, are not allowed in any area on trains, on Thruway services, in stations or in any other location where smoking is prohibited.


#6 Ispolkom

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 10:49 PM

I wonder if it is technologically so difficult to have a "smoking car". Maybe charge a few extra bucks for admission. With the price of smokes nowadays, I don't see smokers as an impoverished class.


There used to be smoking lounges on Superliner trains, built into baggage coaches, I think. They didn't work out so well, because, among other things, smokers would leave the doors open because the lounges became too smokey. No, that doesn't make any sense to me, either.

#7 Anderson

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 11:19 PM

Have you tried the e-cigarette? The Empire Builder specifically told smokers "this stop is l ong enough for a smoke". So it isn't like Amtrak is flipping off smokers. They seem quite cooperative. I always thought Canada's approach was better (not trains, restaurants). In every restaurant I went to in Toronto, there was a closed room dedicated to having a smoke. So they weren't freezing their tush in the winter months like they do here in the USA. I wonder if it is technologically so difficult to have a "smoking car". Maybe charge a few extra bucks for admission. With the price of smokes nowadays, I don't see smokers as an impoverished class.


I think the Auto Train has a waiver because:
A) The smoking area is isolated (it's downstairs in one of several cafe cars, IIRC); and
B) It's essentially a non-stop run for 14-18 hours (depending on OTP and so forth).

If you had a dedicated area on a single-level train, it would have to be on one end of the train (to avoid a pass-through issue) and would probably require another waiver (the ban was a result of a blanket federal ban on smoking in public transportation) or the issuance of a general waiver. On bilevels...a downstairs area could be used somewhere in the train, but you'd probably just want to convert a car for the purpose. The problem you run into, however, is "What if the rest of the train sells out?" If there's lousy ventilation, forcing anyone to sit in that car would be a problem.
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#8 Swadian Hardcore

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 11:25 PM

Amtrak already has too little cars. If they make smoking cars for each consist, they simply don't have enough cars to make it worthwhile. It's not even physically possible, even worse when you count in the other problems, like some that previous posters said.


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#9 the_traveler

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 11:28 PM

I for one do not ever want to see a "smoking car" on Amtrak! I am not, never was and never will be a smoker.

Unless the "smoking car" is the last car of the train. But that would cut off the railfan window from the other passengers, unless they wanted to stand in the smoke! Or it was any other car, those non-smokers would have to walk thru the "smoking car" to get elsewhere on the train! (Think the BOS sleeper on the LSL or the PDX sleeper on the EB!) And if they had it on a Superliner lower level, where does smoke go?Posted Image Surprise - it rises up to the upper level!Posted Image

I for one was glad when airlines banned smoking on airlines (as least US domestic flights)! The "smoking section" was at the back of the plane. And where are the rest rooms for coach?Posted Image At the back of the aircraft! So you HAD to walk thru the smoke, and if all the rest rooms were occupied, you had to STAND AND WAIT in the smoke!
Take it easy .......

Take the train instead and enjoy the ride!

The view is much better at 3 feet than it is at 30,000 feet!

#10 ParrotRob

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 12:27 AM

I agree 1000%, traveler. Personally, I wish they'd do a better job of enforcing not just on the train but also on the platform. Every time the Crescent stops for more than five minutes, a handful of people have to congregate right outside the open doors and puff away. Too much to ask to step away from the train, I guess.

#11 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 02:40 AM

If I recall correctly the smoking restrictions for Amtrak do no apply to locations that are not "public" areas. This loophole presumably allows for smoking by staff in the kitchen on Superliners and in the baggage car on any train that has one. Until those loopholes are closed, either by Amtrak or an appropriate regulatory agency, they will likely remain a source of unmitigated hypocrisy as described in this thread.


I for one was glad when airlines banned smoking on airlines (as least US domestic flights)! The "smoking section" was at the back of the plane. And where are the rest rooms for coach? At the back of the aircraft! So you HAD to walk thru the smoke, and if all the rest rooms were occupied, you had to STAND AND WAIT in the smoke!

Commercial airlines had smoking sections in different locations, including at least one that simply alternated rows. If I recall correctly, originally it was the FAA that banned smoking on flights under a certain duration. That duration was then extended over time. Eventually the US airlines saw the writing on the wall and decided to simply ban all smoking network wide. At this point I believe no US based airline and no commercial flights into or out of the US can allow smoking by law. This is probably true in most European countries as well. Supposedly there were a few airlines that still allowed smoking in places like the Middle East, but even that may no longer be true today. All I know is that it has been a very long time since I've seen anyone smoke up an airplane.




I wish they'd do a better job of enforcing not just on the train but also on the platform. Every time the Crescent stops for more than five minutes, a handful of people have to congregate right outside the open doors and puff away. Too much to ask to step away from the train, I guess.

Amtrak used to have double-stops for this very reason. The first stop would be a little before the station where the smokers would get off and light up. The train would then move down to the official station stop and the smokers would receive their drug addict fix and make their way toward the station to re-board. I don't know why Amtrak decided to discontinue this system. Maybe someone else can chime in on their reasoning?

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#12 Cho Cho Charlie

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 07:39 AM

If you had a dedicated area on a single-level train, it would have to be on one end of the train (to avoid a pass-through issue) and ...

Unless the "smoking car" is the last car of the train. But that would cut off the railfan window from the other passengers, unless they wanted to stand in the smoke! Or it was any other car, those non-smokers would have to walk thru the "smoking car" to get elsewhere on the train! (Think the BOS sleeper on the LSL or the PDX sleeper on the EB!)


Why can't one take a single level car like the Viewliner sleeper, and turn the H room and the two bedrooms into a smoking lounge? Non-smoking passengers would still be able to walk by the smoking lounge thru the hallway. Proper ventilation design will help ensure clear air vents into the lounge, and not smokey air out, when the door is open. Matter of fact, if the lounge's door is where the H room's door is today, the "natural" air flow of the vestibule should keep the area pretty clear.

I know the cruise line industry has a really good method of eliminating any trace of smoke in a cabin, when the cabin was occupied by a heavy smoker. The next occupant has absolutely no hint of the smoking. Amtrak could do something similar to any such smoking lounge so that there is not a build-up of smoke smell from one trip to the next, over the course of years.

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#13 GaSteve

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 07:49 AM

Why can't one take a single level car like the Viewliner sleeper, and turn the H room and the two bedrooms into a smoking lounge? Non-smoking passengers would still be able to walk by the smoking lounge thru the hallway. Proper ventilation design will help ensure clear air vents into the lounge, and not smokey air out, when the door is open. Matter of fact, if the lounge's door is where the H room's door is today, the "natural" air flow of the vestibule should keep the area pretty clear.


That would be taking revenue away, because most of the time those rooms are sold now with sleepers running full.

#14 benjibear

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 08:50 AM

Amtrak could making a smoking room that has negative pressure and make the rest of the car around it positive. They would have to account that the door could be open which may cause alot of airflow in the rest of the car making it dry.

There would be some expense to do this. I for one would not want to pay for it and the smokers should have to pay for the room. Would there be enough smokers willing to pay just to go into a room and puff one cigarette?

Also, with Amtrak having limited extra car space, would they really want to take room off a train?

Edited by benjibear, 15 April 2012 - 08:51 AM.


#15 Railroad Bill

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 09:31 AM

Of course, the ultimate solution would be for smokers to give up their drug habit :giggle:

One of the better things about riding on a train is not having to put up with second hand smoke :)

And there is always comedy relief when you get to watch the smokers with an unlit cigarette in their mouth, waiting in the doorway to get onto the platform at a smoke stop :lol:

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#16 PaulM

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 09:38 AM



Why can't one take a single level car like the Viewliner sleeper, and turn the H room and the two bedrooms into a smoking lounge? Non-smoking passengers would still be able to walk by the smoking lounge thru the hallway. Proper ventilation design will help ensure clear air vents into the lounge, and not smokey air out, when the door is open. Matter of fact, if the lounge's door is where the H room's door is today, the "natural" air flow of the vestibule should keep the area pretty clear.


That would be taking revenue away, because most of the time those rooms are sold now with sleepers running full.

I'm sure Choo Choo was being sarcastic, just pointing out the extreme measures required to accommodate smokers other than with smoke stops.

#17 RRUserious

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 09:55 AM

I agree 1000%, traveler. Personally, I wish they'd do a better job of enforcing not just on the train but also on the platform. Every time the Crescent stops for more than five minutes, a handful of people have to congregate right outside the open doors and puff away. Too much to ask to step away from the train, I guess.


I thought it was due to a fear of being left behind. Some stops are not in places you'd want to be left.

#18 the_traveler

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 10:20 AM


I agree 1000%, traveler. Personally, I wish they'd do a better job of enforcing not just on the train but also on the platform. Every time the Crescent stops for more than five minutes, a handful of people have to congregate right outside the open doors and puff away. Too much to ask to step away from the train, I guess.

I thought it was due to a fear of being left behind. Some stops are not in places you'd want to be left.

I feel if someone wants to smoke that bad, they deserve to be left behind!Posted Image

At every smoke/"fresh airPosted Image" stop, I've heard announcements for smokers to "stay at least XX feet from any open door"! Most comply.

Edited by the_traveler, 15 April 2012 - 10:21 AM.

Take it easy .......

Take the train instead and enjoy the ride!

The view is much better at 3 feet than it is at 30,000 feet!

#19 ParrotRob

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 11:08 AM


I agree 1000%, traveler. Personally, I wish they'd do a better job of enforcing not just on the train but also on the platform. Every time the Crescent stops for more than five minutes, a handful of people have to congregate right outside the open doors and puff away. Too much to ask to step away from the train, I guess.


I thought it was due to a fear of being left behind. Some stops are not in places you'd want to be left.


I wouldn't have thought that at all. Trains don't exactly suddenly hurl themselves from a station with no warning whatsoever. ;) Even standing 30 feet from the door you'd be able to tell when they were fixin to close the door and move on.

#20 Ben_G

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 01:21 PM

Believe it or not the air quality used to be better on planes and trains when they allowed smoking. The last few rows of seats as said were smoking seats. They used to have very good ventilation in trains and planes to remove any smoke thru the system. These days not so much, that why flying or in a train it's more likely you will catch a bug. Think of traveling in a large petri dish. I recall going thru the Moffet tunnel once where they forgot to shut down the system to prevent outside diesel fumes from entering the coach. The fumes got to the point several passengers were chokeing. When we hit fresh air again it cleared out in seconds, there was that much air being pushed thru the system.




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