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Smokers getting own space at Tampa airport

Smokers will be getting their own room in Airside F at Tampa International Airport.

Complaints about smoke in the USAir/American Airlines terminal prompted the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority on Thursday to approve a $32,000 contract to remodel an empty room into a smokers' lounge.

The room, beside the security checkpoint for Airside F, should open in May.

"I think it's a total solution," said Jim Johnson, the authority's senior director of airports. "If you separate the smokers from the non-smokers and vent the smoke outside, it solves the problem for everyone."

Also Thursday, the authority awarded Host International a 10{-year extension on its food and beverage contract at the airport.

Board member W. Crosby Few objected to the extension. He said it was too long and that other companies should have been allowed to bid on the contract.

Authority officials said they renewed because they are satisfied with Host and there are few other companies still in the business of airport concessions.

The existing contract with Host was to expire in two years, but the authority renegotiated it early to clarify how much Host will need to invest in a new restaurant and bar in Airside A, which is scheduled to open in November.

The new contract calls for Host to invest at least $3.2-million in the next two years in Airside A and renovations to restaurants and bars in the main, "landside" terminal.