Monday, December 05, 2005

Tell me again why we need a government imposed smoking ban . . . .

Posted by Craig Westover | 5:03 PM |  

The following was emailed to by by a smoking ban proponent to support his position that smoking bans are good.
Westin Hotels Goes Smokefree
Upscale chain brings clean air to all of its 77 properties

Parts excerpted from USA Today, 12/4/05

The new year will ring in the USA's first smoke-free major hotel chain.
Westin Hotels & Resorts will announce today that it is snuffing out smoking in all rooms, restaurants, bars and public areas at its 77 U.S., Canadian, and Caribbean properties starting in January. Guests may smoke only in outdoor areas.

The policy reflects "a demand from guests for a smoke-free hotel experience," says Sue Brush, Westin senior vice president. "Nobody likes to walk into a smoky guest room — not even smokers." Westin research shows that 92% of its guests request a smoke-free room.

The no-smoking trend — evident in the growing number of city and state ordinances clearing the air in offices, bars, and restaurants — is prompting more hotels to go smoke-free:

• Six Westins currently forbid smoking.

• The Comfort Inn in New York City's Times Square went smokefree three years ago. Occupancy rates have set records, with the hotel almost always being fully occupied.

• About 80% of California's Joie de Vivre boutique-hotel chain (28 total properties) are now smoke-free.

• All five properties in California's Woodside Hotels & Resorts group, including the Napa Valley Lodge, have banned smoking since 2000.

In 2004, the Topaz Hotel in Washington, D.C., became the first lodging in the Kimpton chain to provide only smokefree guest rooms. The number of smokers who gripe when put in a non-smoking room is "small compared to the number of people who were complaining about being put in a smoking room" when the hotel was fully booked, says Topaz general manager David Hill. "It's a huge weight off the shoulders of our (customer) service staff. I will never go back."

No-smoking rooms also need less cleaning and repair of burned furnishings. To prepare for the new era, Westin's 2,400 U.S., Canadian and Caribbean smoking rooms will be deep-cleaned and get new air filters.

For a big chain to make such a major policy shift is "very cutting-edge," American Hotel & Lodging Association President Joseph McInerney said in a statement. "The industry is sure to take notice."
Unless I'm missing something, Westin Hotels is taking this step VOLUNTARILY. I can argue with neither their reasoning nor their implementation nor their right to do what they are doing. Note that Westin is not trumping up some phony health reason for their decision. It’s economics, plain and simple. Westin feels it will give them a competitive advantage in the market. Otherwise, they wouldn’t do it. (Incidently, the action creates a market niche for a hotel chain that caters to smokers.)

It’s also interesting to note that our local smoking ban proponents would exempt hotels and motels from their campaign saying that hotel rooms are like private residences. However, I don’t expect to see the ALA out campaigning for the constitutional rights of people to smoke in hotel rooms, which by the way doesn’t exist.

There is no fundamental right to smoke in a hotel, just as there is no fundamental right to smoke in a bar or restaurant -- just as there is no fundamental right to a smoke-free hotel or a smoke-free bar and restaurant. Whether private hotels, bars and restaurants go smoke-free is their decisions based on the wishes of the market. It’s not up to groups like the ALA and the American Cancer Society to borrow the power of government to cover their own failure to convince people to voluntarily go smoke free.

Far from supporting evidence for government-imposed smoking bans, Westin’s action is precisely why smoking bans in private businesses (entered by choice) are an unnecessary imposition on the market economy and on individual freedom of choice.

Category: Smoking Ban

Update: Link to Pioneer Press coverage of this story