Hotel smoking ban considered for N.Y. hotels

A new bill proposed by New York state lawmaker Ken Zebrowski proposes an end to smoking in hotel rooms in the state.

CNN Money reported that the measure was introduced last week out of Zebrowski's personal experiences staying near rooms that permit smoking.

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"I travel and spend a lot of time in hotel rooms," Zebrowski told CNN Money. "I've noticed that if you're above, below or next to a smoking room, the smoke readily travels through the ventilation system."

Zebrowski said the legislation is part of the state's push to improve public health, especially the health of guests in enclosed environments. He said that venting systems are not sufficient to clean the air affected by smoking, subjecting guests to "the behavior of others."

The American Lung Association and local anti-tobacco group POW'R Against Tobacco are in support of Zebrowski, saying in a statement that the ban will positively affect both guests and hotel workers. 

According to USA Today, New York State passed the Clean Indoor Air Act in 2003 with an exemption for the hotel industry. Other exempted indoor smoking locations include private residences and automobiles, cigar bars, membership organizations and retail tobacco shops. If the bill passes, hotel owners that permit indoor smoking would be subject to a fine for any violations.

Altria, the parent company of cigarette manufacturer Phillip Morris USA, maintains it should be up to business owners to decide whether smoking should be permitted inside their facilities. The company has an active presence in Albany, N.Y., and recently lobbied against efforts to treat e-cigarettes the same as traditional cigarettes as they relate to smoking bans.

Zebrowski's proposed legislature does not currently have a sponsor in the Senate, though he also has yet to reach out to senators about picking up the bill. 

"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, VP of the New York State Hospitality & Tourism Association, which represents the state’s lodging industry, told USA Today. “So we really don’t have a position on it right now."

Four other states currently prohibit smoking in hotel rooms: Michigan, North Dakota, Vermont and Washington. In addition, chains such as Marriott, Westin and Hilton already ban smoking in all of their locations.

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