There was a time, generally around the 1950s, when smoking was considered cool. Sophisticated. Glamorous. Maybe even sexy. But sometime during the later 20th century, smoking turned a corner. It had been going out of style for years, in large part thanks to the medical industry telling us how smoke, and second hand smoke, was bad for us. I remember my aunt (who had been a smoker since the 50s), who lived in Southern California at the time, saying in the early 90s that smokers were like pariahs where she lived.
Wikipedia has a long list of smoking bans in the U.S. that have gone into effect since the very first one was enacted (California, 1995: statewide smoking ban for restaurants).
When it comes to travel, smoking on planes was banned on April 19, 1998 by the U.S. Dep’t of Transportation. The ban encompassed all commercial passenger flights in the United States or by American air carriers.
Of course, they could do that because planes were regulated by the federal government. However (with one exception) airports are owned by local government entities. So it took much longer for airports to eventually say, “You can’t smoke in here anymore.” Even today, there are a handful of airport that still allow indoor smoking.
Then then I got to thinking…people can’t smoke in planes in the U.S. They can’t smoke in most airports in the country, either. What about hotels?
Actually, there are significantly more hotels in the U.S. that still allow on-site smoking. That’s most likely because of two factors:
- Smoking in hotels is regulated by state and local laws, not the federal government
- There are many, many more hotels out there than airports
Before a hotel can allow smoking rooms (remember smoking and non-smoking rooms?), the state has to allow it. There are only seven states that require all hotel and motel rooms to be 100% smokefree:
- North Dakota
However even if a state has no laws on the books about smoking in hotel rooms, city, county and towns may have their own local laws set up that specifically say all hotel and motel rooms must be 100% smokefree. American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation keeps an ongoing list of such cities, counties and towns, on this PDF.
Some of the big, major hotels and their respective brands, don’t allow in-room smoking at all. Others do. Here are their respective policies:
“Some Establishments are 100% non-smoking, which means that smoking in the bedrooms is also forbidden.”
Most Choice Hotel brands offer smoking rooms, some don’t. These brands do not offer smoking rooms at all:
“Many of our properties are now 100% non-smoking hotels, but if available, you may request a smoking room.”
Hyatt has no all-encompassing smoking policy on its corporate website. However the websites for individual hotels will say what their smoking policies are.
Four Seasons has no smoking policy on its corporate website. However the websites for individual hotels will say what their smoking policies are.
IHG has no all-encompassing smoking policy on its corporate website. However the websites for individual hotels will say what their smoking policies are.
“Marriott is committed to providing its guests and associates with a smoke-free environment, and is proud to boast one of the most comprehensive smoke-free hotel policies in the industry. Since its introduction in 2006, the policy has been implemented in more than 2,300 properties throughout the United States and Canada under the Marriott, JW Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance, Courtyard, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites, Fairfield Inn, TownePlace Suites and ExecuStay brands.”
Radisson has no smoking policy on its corporate website. However based on responses from Radisson hotel managers, the brand went 100% smoke free a while back.
Most Wyndham Hotel brands offer smoking rooms, some don’t. These brands do not offer smoking rooms at all:
- Wyndham Hotels & Resorts
How can you find out if a hotel has smoking rooms?
There’s no federal law for smoking in hotels. There’s also no consistent law from state to state, and sometimes even from hotel to hotel within the same brand. The best way to see if your hotel offers smoking rooms would be to check its website or to call.
Years ago, there was a website called smoketels.com that kept smokers up-to-date on this information, but it appears the site is no longer available. There’s currently a site called smokingfinder.com, although I don’t know up-to-date it is.
According to the American Lung Association, in 1965, 42.4% of adults said they smoked cigarettes. By 2017, that number was down to 12.7%. The CDC reports that as of 2021, less than 12% of American adults smoked cigarettes (about 13.1% of men, and 10.1% of women).
With less and less people smoking, the number of smoking rooms in hotels is sure to continue to decrease. Non-smokers generally don’t want smoking rooms because of the smell. And if a hotel is holding, say, 20% of its rooms as smoking rooms, but they’re rarely all filled with smokers, it would make sense that they’d convert at least some of those rooms to non-smoking ones, so they’d have more availability to the majority of the population.
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