Home Air Quality Study Suggests Hotels Expose Guests to Thirdhand Cigarette Smoke

Study Suggests Hotels Expose Guests to Thirdhand Cigarette Smoke


NATIONAL REPORT—When guests stay at hotels and resorts, they expect to have clean and safe accommodations. But a recent study by researchers from San Diego State University found this might not always be true. After analyzing more than 332,000 reviews left by internet users on 477 lodging properties across the country, it was found that 80 percent of the complaints were related to thirdhand smoke. It is important to note that 96 percent of these hotels advertised themselves as smoke-free.

Thirdhand smoke, like its firsthand and secondhand counterparts, can be dangerous. It can be defined as pollutant residue that lingers after a cigarette or cigar is used. As they can embed themselves onto surfaces, these chemical leftovers can still cause adverse health effects to unsuspecting individuals.

With these findings, it is essential to see if the hospitality industry is taking the proper precautions in eliminating thirdhand smoke and if this will continue to be a problem in the future.

Stricter No-Smoking Rule Enforcement

Many hotels, especially those part of larger chains, have doubled down on their no-smoking rules. For example, Marriott International properties have created policies that implement fines for guests found smoking within their buildings’ premises. This includes smoking in private quarters such as hotel rooms and event spaces.

Establishments often make it known that they are smoke-free properties. They advertise this on their websites that guests use to book rooms. Many also have signs showing this rule. And while it is not a surefire way of preventing guests from using cigarettes or cigars within their premises, it undoubtedly deters most people from smoking within the hotel.

Provide Designated Smoking Areas

As mentioned above, it is unavoidable for some guests to still smoke within the hotel. To counter this, other lodging establishments have implemented designated smoking areas. Some hotels let guests stay in smoking rooms—which they often have to pay more for. Other properties have indoor and outdoor areas where patrons can light a cigarette. These spaces are often secluded from populated parts of the hotels to keep other guests safe.

A report on smoke-free policies from the CDC found that having designated smoking areas is actually more effective than banning them altogether. Providing these spaces gives patrons fewer reasons to use cigarettes in areas where they are not allowed and gives the hotels a controlled environment to prevent the occurrence of secondhand or thirdhand smoke.

Utilize Smoke Detection Tools

While hotels may not be able to stop smoking on their premises completely, many tools can now tell employees whether someone has done so. This can be helpful in allowing them to implement smoke-free rules more strictly and telling them which areas of their establishment need to be stripped of thirdhand smoke particles.

These smoke detectors work by monitoring smoke and carbon monoxide levels—two things that appear after cigarettes and cigars are used. Some devices can even identify vapors released from e-cigarettes. After they reach a certain threshold, the device sends an alert to management, letting them know whether action needs to be taken. And though they don’t completely solve the problem, they can help lessen the impact of thirdhand smoke on the hospitality industry.

Allow the Use of NRTs

Thankfully, thirdhand smoke might become a past problem for the hospitality industry. Currently, 70 percent of smokers want to kick this habit. This is made more accessible by the growing market for nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)—smokeless alternatives to tobacco products. NRT products are designed to replicate the smoking experience without using tobacco in any form.

One of the most popular NRTs is the nicotine pouch. These candy-sized bags come in a wide range of strengths and flavors that can satiate the needs of any smoker. The biggest advantage of nicotine pouches, especially in terms of hospitality, is that they allow users to get their nicotine experience without dealing with smoke, odors, or drip. This means they can be used in smoke-free environments as they won’t cause any lingering issues like third-hand smoke. The most popular brands in the US are VELO, On!, and ZYN.

Other NRT alternatives, like nicotine patches, are also gaining in popularity across the country. Habitrol and Nicotex are just some of the leading brands that also offer many dosages. Like nicotine pouches, they are discreet and can be used anywhere—users stick a patch to a designated portion of their body to feel its effects.

And though thirdhand smoke remains an issue for hotels and the hospitality industry, changing attitudes towards smoking and the cigarette market may dictate a new future where these pollutants will cease to become an issue.