When life gets dull, rough, or stressful, a few of us want to escape our life to fully live it. This level of unfulfillment fuels us to check flight tickets to a magical destination. Once we have booked our tickets, we then begin our hunt for hotels. This is all in an attempt to de-stress, right? Unfortunately, booking a hotel may be a cause of new stressors, depending on the previous visitors who chose how to live in it.
Generally, when choosing a hotel, the top priorities include: cost, location, proximity to tourist destinations, aesthetic of the space, etc. However, there are factors of the hotel that are equally, if not more, important that many of us are not informed enough to ask. For example: if the previous visitors chose to smoke in one of the hotel rooms, it places future visitors at risk of exposure to toxic tobacco smoke residue. Some hotels have designated rooms or floors where guest can smoke. But does this really protect the nonsmoker rooms? What if the hotel runs out of nonsmoker rooms when you arrive and puts you in a smoker room?
Tobacco smoke residues are also stubborn, aggressive, and sticky. Repeated smoking in a hotel room creates a reservoir of thirdhand smoke pollutants that you sometimes can smell and see on the walls. Thirdhand smoke chemicals stick to articles of clothing, beddings, carpet, walls, and furniture. Even if you are not directly in a room where smoking is allowed, but next to, above, or below rooms that allow smoking, the particles can pass through walls and ventilation systems to be absorbed elsewhere–even if you don’t smell anything.
The old saying, you get what you pay for, is true when it comes to the presence and enforcement of smokefree policies. Luxurious hotels – although costly- are likely to have stricter policies in favor of no-smoking. If you are renting out motels, it is more likely that the rooms will reek of cigarette smoke and have higher levels of toxic thirdhand smoke pollutants. However, we believe that you shouldn’t have to pay extra to protect your health from the harms of tobacco products.
To prevent the unpleasant surprise of having to stay in thirdhand smoke polluted room and have your much deserved vacation ruined, here is what you can do: 1) book a room in a hotel that is 100% smokefree. 2) At the time of your booking, confirm that you are requesting a nonsmoking room. You can also inquire how long the hotel has had the no-smoking policy and if there are any adjacent rooms where smoking is allowed. 3) when you check in, confirm again that you will be staying in a nonsmoking room. 4) If you find that the room you chose has evidence of smoking, you have every right to request a different room. Sure, you don’t want to be that person, but the hotel management wants and needs satisfied customers so it is in their best interest to address your concern.
In particular, the national association that sets engineering standards for indoor air quality has found that adverse health effects for the occupants of a smoking room cannot be controlled by ventilation alone. The only way to effectively eliminate health risk associated with indoor exposure is to ban smoking altogether. Thus, staying at a hotel that doesn’t allow smoking on the premises–and hasn’t for years–is the best think you can do to prevent exposure to thirdhand smoke pollution.