Smoke-free Apartment &
Amid growing public concern about the dangers of secondhand smoke, the number of lodgings prohibiting smoking indoors has tripled in three years, according to a USA TODAY analysis of American Automobile Association data.
There are more than 8,300 smoke-free lodgings in the USA — nearly 6,000 more than in 2005, AAA's figures show.
More than 7,000 of the smoke-free lodgings are hotels, motels, inns and B&Bs, while the rest are condos, cottages and other rentals.
AAA has the most extensive list of smoke-free lodgings, but the total is undoubtedly higher. AAA inspectors do not evaluate every lodging, and a growing number of state and local governments have passed laws restricting smoking in hotels and other public places.
"Making a hotel smoke-free is the right thing to do because it protects guests and employees from secondhand smoke," says Joe McInerney, president of the American Hotel & Lodging Association.
Two years ago, Westin Hotels & Resorts said it was responding to guests' demands for a healthy environment. It became the first chain to go smoke-free at its 90 U.S. hotels.
Marriott, the nation's largest hotel company, made nearly all its more than 2,500 U.S. hotels smoke-free several months later. Marriott subsidiary The Ritz-Carlton, Walt Disney, Gaylord, Comfort Suites and Cambria Suites are other chains with all smoke-free U.S. hotels.
All U.S. hotels of Sheraton and Four Points will be smoke-free by the end of next month, says Nadeen Ayala, a spokeswoman for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, which has nine hotel brands. Sheraton and Four Points have 264 U.S. hotels.
California has more smoke-free lodgings — 1,040 — than any state, according to AAA data. Florida follows with 444 and Texas with 408.
Force of law
The growth of smoke-free hotels goes hand-in-hand with an increasing number of laws restricting smoking in hotels and other public places.
Twenty-three states have laws that specify how many non-smoking rooms must be in hotels, and 534 cities and counties restrict smoking in hotels in their jurisdictions, according to Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, a non-profit organization.
Many frequent business travelers support the smoke-free trend and do not like to stay at hotels that allow smoking in some rooms.
Sherry Lawton, of Lincoln, Neb., says she stays at smoke-free hotels because she has smelled smoke in hallways and her rooms at hotels that have some rooms for smokers.
"Hotels try to cover up the smoke smell with excessive 'nice-smelling' sprays," says the health care industry sales executive.
"Even if they have smoke-free floors," she says, "you can still smell the smoke."
A July survey of more than 53,000 hotel guests by J.D. Power and Associates showed that 89% prefer a smoke-free hotel, says Sam Thanawalla, the company's director of hospitality and travel.
That's an increase from 79% who had such a preference in the company's survey two years ago.
But many smokers prefer hotels that allow smoking indoors. "The non-smoking hotels have not provided a comfortable outside area to smoke," says Barbara Antonelli, of Philadelphia, who works for a health care company.
Hotels offering rooms for smokers say they want to please all customers. Ray Burger, president of Pineapple Hospitality, which sells hotels a deodorizer that eliminates smoke, says there's also a business reason.
"Hoteliers that have not made the change to smoke-free may be reticent to do so, because they may not wish to risk losing the smoking portion of their customer base," says Burger, who maintains a website, freshstay.com, with a directory of more than 3,000 smoke-free lodgings.
Penalties for puffing
Smokers who puff in a smoke-free hotel's guest rooms find it costly when they are detected.
For example, many smoke-free hotels of Radisson and Country Inns & Suites charge a guest $250 for smoking in a room. The two chains' parent company, Carlson Hotels, recommends that the charge not exceed $500 to cover the cost of cleaning a room, spokeswoman Joan Cronson says.
Westin assesses a $200 cleaning fee, says Starwood spokeswoman Ayala.
"To be truly smoke-free, a room has to undergo an intensive cleaning process each time a guest smokes in a non-smoking room," Ayala says. "It includes replacing all linens, bedding, drapes, window sheers and air filters, and cleaning all walls, hard surfaces and rugs."
SMOKE-FREE HOTELS ACROSS THE USA
Smoking is prohibited indoors at more than 8,300 U.S. hotels, motels and other lodgings. Twenty-three states have laws specifying the minimum percentage of non-smoking rooms. More than 500 cities and counties also have laws restricting smoking in hotels.
* State law may apply only to hotels of a particular size or type.
Sources: American Automobile Association, American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation
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