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S P E C I A L Tobacco Under Attack

Smokers light up at mall smoking lounges

smoking lounge exterior September 3, 1997
Web posted at: 2:04 p.m. EDT (1804 GMT)

ATLANTA (CNN) -- Hubert Satterfield sits slouched in a lounge chair, a steaming cup of java in one hand, a cigarette in the other. Somewhere nearby, his wife roams the shopping mall.

Smokers, banned from lighting up in many work cubicles, government buildings and most areas of sports stadiums -- are taking refuge in the comfy confines of smoking lounges at two malls in Atlanta and Chattanooga, Tennessee.

"While your wife's shopping, it's better than going out a side door and standing around at the front door, smoking and coming back in," Satterfield says, amid puffs from his smoke.

The lounges were established and paid for by cigarette manufacturer R.J. Reynolds to better serve beleaguered and much-maligned smokers, because smoking elsewhere in the malls is strictly forbidden.

"Welcome to the Smoking Lounge. Must be 21 years of age to enter," a sign reads outside the Chattanooga lounge.

people outside smoking lounge

The smoking rooms are furnished with comfortable lounge chairs and nifty sofas -- and, of course, decorative ashtrays. Coffee and newspapers are readily available for patrons.

David Iauco, the senior vice president of RJR, says the cigarette manufacturer plans to test its largely smokeless cigarette, Eclipse, in the two lounges. Smokers, in turn, will give feedback to the company.

Smokers are just happy to have a place to light up again without the nasty glare of anti-smokers.

"No hassle. No problems," says smoker Sean Fisher. "It's very convenient."

Correspondent Brian Cabell contributed to this report.

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