N.Y. Bill Seeks To Outlaw Smoking In Hotel Rooms

Although it’s illegal to smoke in most indoor spaces in New York — office buildings, bars, restaurants, retail establishments, etc. — those looking to light up a cigarette can still do so in hotel and motel rooms that are specified as smoking rooms. That could change soon, if a new bill in the state legislature succeeds.

When the Clean Indoor Air Act was passed in the state in 2003, the hotel industry got an exemption that allowed smoking in rooms, along with other indoor spots like private residences, cars, cigar bars, membership organizations and retail tobacco shops.

Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski has had personal experiences with those smoking rooms that prompted him to introduce the bill to remove the exemption for hotels last month.

“I’ll be honest, I spend a lot of time in hotel rooms,” Zebrowski told Democrat & Chronicle. “One of the things I’ve noticed is if you are above, below or next to a smoking room — even if you’re a non-smoker — it comes right through the vents.”

The bill is going to face stiff opposition from the tobacco industry when lawmakers get back to the Capitol in January: Altria, the parent company of Phillip Morris USA, says it should be up to business owners whether or not to allow smoking.

“In indoor public places where smoking is permitted, business owners should have the flexibility to decide how best to address the preferences of non-smokers and smokers through separation, separate rooms and/or high-quality ventilation,” reads the company’s website.

As for how the hotel industry will react, it’s unclear: chains including Marriott and Westin have already banned smoking within their hotels, so they don’t have an interest either way.

“At this point, with the bill being introduced, we will go out to our 1,300 members, survey them and talk to them before we can give industry-wide feedback,” Mark Dorr, vice president of the New York State Hospitality & Tourism Association told the Democrat & Chronicle. “So we really don’t have a position on it right now.”

The bill doesn’t have a sponsor in the Senate yet, but Zebrowski also hasn’t reached out to anyone about picking it up so far.

“I just think from all the evidence of the detriments of second-hand smoke and as much as we’ve tried to eliminate the threat to non-smokers, this I think is a reasonable next step,” Zebrowski said.

Bill would ban smoking in NY hotels (Democrat & Chronicle)

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