Thursday, July 20, 2006

Marriot hotels ban smoking...

..presumably because they thought that to do so would be profitable.

And the government didn't even have to force them to.

Most restaurants in my area are non-smoking for exactly this reason.

Seems like the best reason to me.

(Ever notice that when a restaurant bans smoking few people complain, but when the people impose their views by trying to get government to ban all smoking in restaurants, it becomes a divisive issue for the community?)

who will re-clarify that banning smoking in public buildings is OK with her, but she thinks restaurant owners should be allowed to make their own decisions.

And who isn't a smoker, FWIW.


fausto said...

Or maybe it's because the Marriott family are Mormons.

If you go to Salt Lake and stay at the Inn on Temple Square, which is owned by the LDS Church, you have to sign a written acknowledgement of their no smoking policy and agree to let your credit card be charged for the cost of steam-cleaning or replacing the carpets, drapes and upholstery if you violate the policy. Compared to that, Marriott is downright worldly!

Jess said...

I'd make the argument that restaurants, bars, clubs, etc, ARE public places. As are hotels, where even in a non-smoking room, one can smell the smoke from the smoking room right down the hall.

But it's cool when business owners take the initiative, and hopefully are rewarded for doing so.

Jamie Goodwin said...

Jess, I have to wonder.. are you not going to smell the smoke fromt he smokers who step outide to have a quick one?

What about when you walk by a car and the driver is smoking?

How about if your non smoking hotel is next to a smoking hotel?

I mean.. when does ones right to never smell anything offensive start stepping on anothers right to partake in (so far) legal adult activity?

TheCSO said...

I do think this was a business decision. Keep in mind that the only people hotel chains care about are frequent business travellers, because they are the only ones who demonstrate enough brand loyalty AND use hotels often enough to be worth catering to. And the number of business travellers who get annoyed at "Sorry, all we have available on such short notice is a smoking room" is WAY more than the number who get annoyed at "Sorry, all we have available on such short notice is a non-smoking room."

(As are hotels, where even in a non-smoking room, one can smell the smoke from the smoking room right down the hall.)
Fire codes are pretty strict about not having smoke travel between floors because smoke is the big killer in fires. If you're going to have smoking rooms, it makes sense to put them all on one floor.

And Fausto, I've seen that policy at other hotels too.. strikes me as perfectly reasonable. If you smoke in a nonsmoking room, you SHOULD be responsible for the full cost of restoring the room to its nonsmoky condition. Just like you should be responsible for the whole cost of fixing the room if you throw a wild party and trash it.

Jess said...

It's not "the right not to smell something offensive" it's rather the right not to breathe in poison. This is a public health issue, not an individual freedom issue.

I have an asthmatic child. On a daily basis, I have to move him away from people who are smoking, usually outside, because it can trigger an asthma attack and land him in the hospital. A whiff of second hand smoke is enough to start him sneezing and coughing.

I had two grandparents die painfully from lung and throat cancer from smoking. My dad still smokes, and smoked around me all the time when I was a kid. Now there is evidence that second hand smoke is MORE carcinogenic than first hand.

So as far as I'm concerned, an individual's right to smoke is absolutely trumped by the right for other individuals to breathe smoke-free air. It is the smoker's responsibility to keep the smoke away from other people, and I'm all for legislation to make that clear.

Chalicechick said...

My cousin's daughter was so sensitive to peanuts that the smell of peanuts would make her sick.

Should my cousin have pushed for legislation to ban peanuts from everywhere?

What she did, keep her daugher away from environments likely to have peanuts, and move if they guy next to them on the subway was eating peanuts, seemed to work fine.

What about people sensitive to smells? Should they be able to make perfume illegal?

I don't think there's any evidence that secondhand smoke is carcinogenic in the quantities from walking past someone smoking. Living with a smoker, yes.

But we're not to the point of trying to ban smoking in private homes.



Jess said...

Your arguments are red herrings. This is not an issue of personal choice or preference, it's an issue of public health.

Breathing cigarette smoke is not healthy for anyone. Peanuts (your example) do not harm those who are not allergic to them, much like easter lilies, dogwood, cat hair, etc.

American Cancer Society: "Secondhand smoke is the third leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. killing 38,000 to 65,000 nonsmokers every year."

Environmental Protection Agency: "Although some have argued that tobacco smoke cannot cause cancer below a certain level, there is no evidence that this threshold exists. In the absence of such evidence, carcinogens at any level are considered by EPA to increase risk somewhat, although the degree of risk certainly is reduced as exposure decreases. The increased risks observed in the secondhand smoke epidemiology studies are further evidence that any threshold for secondhand smoke would have to be at very low levels.""The effects of even brief exposure (minutes to hours) to secondhand smoke are often nearly as large (averaging 80% to 90%) as chronic active smoking," from Barnoya, J.; Glantz, S.A., "Cardiovascular effects of secondhand smoke: nearly as large as smoking," Circulation 111(20): 2684-2698, May 24, 2005.

No one is harmed by NOT being able to smoke wherever they choose. Inconvenienced, maybe, but not harmed. Inflicting second hand smoke on others, however, IS harmful, and measurably so.

The good of the community trumps the vice of the individual.

Chalicechick said...

But is anyone harmed by NOT being able to eat peanuts? I mean they are awfully high in fat....

Maybe they should be illegal.


Chalicechick said...

I can totally believe that all those organizations, who are virulently anti-smoking, would give you statistics that tell you smoking is bad. The ALA has been really inconsistent, FWIW. When they were debating DC’s restaurant smoking ban their representative made the papers here by admitting that the data she’d seen suggested it takes huge amounts of exposure to second hand smoke to for soneone’s chance of getting cancer to go up. She still insisted it was a huge public health risk and just didn’t reconcile those two statements.

The interesting thing to me is that many organizations have come up with different results. Like OSHA:

There’s decent evidence that the secondhand smoking risks are way overblown. Australian medical researcher Raymond Johnstone looked at epidemiological data and determined that the rate of death from cancer among the wives of non-smoking men was 6 per 100,000. The rate of death among the wives of smoking men was 8 per 100,000. That means that the absolute risk of cancer due to the kind of prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke endured by a spouse is 1 per 50,000.

And these are the WIVES of people who smoke. These women LIVE with smokers, they aren’t someone who has to walk past a smoker on the street.

Given that, depending upon the estimates you read, between 75 and 90 percent of long-term smokers don’t get lung cancer, the idea that if you walk near someone who is smoking your chance of cancer suddenly shoots up seems pretty ridiculous.

Eating meat is likely far more risky. Should we ban meat?


Jess said...

So how much of this is about how you hate being told what to do rather than a well-researched and documented health issue?

And as a non smoker, how often do you sit in the smoking section, believing that secondhand smoke has no detrimental effect on the air quality you put into your own lungs?

This is now a dead horse.

Chalicechick said...

Mostly it's about how I don't think making a new law is the solution to every problem and that we are way too quick to impose our preferences on other people.

Most restaurants in Northern VA have no smoking section, a decision they've come to themselves.

I grew up with smoking and it doesn't bother me unless it is in far heavier concentrations than one finds in a restaurant smoking section, so I usually take "first available" unless I'm with theCSO. He doesn't like smoking sections so we usually wait for non smoking.

I really don't think an hour sitting sort of near smokers has a significant impact at all.