The 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) boasted the largest show floor in its history featuring more than 3,200 exhibitors. It was a sight to see, with a lot of improvements on things we have been hearing about in the industry for quite a while.
One trend that really stood out to me was the proliferation of e-cigarette vendors and users. The growth in sales of the e-cigarette will likely make it a habit that’s here to stay. Many large tobacco companies seem to think so, including R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard and Altria (think Marlboro).
The technology used for e-cigs is vaporizing, where a nicotine solution is heated up (powered by batteries). As a result, water vapor is emitted. This byproduct is not perceived to be as detrimental as traditional cigarettes to one’s health and the surrounding environment. I was curious about how hotels are addressing use.
I was not surprised to discover that hotel usage policies are largely still undefined. There aren’t many blanket policies established by hotel companies. Instead, I found individual hotels give the thumbs up or down to this trend.
Like I mentioned before, the impact of e-cigarettes is still being explored, both socially and health-wise. The FDA does not regulate these devices, but they are on its radar. E-cigarettes are not restricted under most municipal smoking policies. Plus, the physical effects of using them are still unanswered.
So the question must be asked, when developing a policy, what type of environment is your hotel looking to promote? There’s no doubt that “vaping” is gaining traction and allowing it would be seen as a positive to users—especially since there aren’t many public laws disallowing it. On the flip side, you might consider it as a way to promote a healthy environment, which is a popular outlook in many cultures. I would say this is especially true because the health impact of e-cigarettes is still an unknown quantity.
I don’t expect the regulation of e-cigarettes to be on the frontier for long. In December the New York City Council banned their use in spaces where traditional tobacco products are banned. I expect other cities to follow. In the meantime, hoteliers should consider how to address the issue before it clouds up their lobbies. If your company has a policy on e-cigarettes, please tweet it to @frankwolfe.