The issue is very simple: people are offended by second-hand cigarette smoke, and smokers are offended by being forced out of buildings or shoved into corners. Both sides are looking for a solution, as are the businesses that cater to them.

Enter Phillip Morris USA. One of the programs that the company is promoting to show its concern for nonsmokers and smokers is also a boon for hvacr contractors.

The program is called “Options.” The company describes Options as an initiative that “helps business owners create comfortable environments by providing information about ventilation, floor plan design, and other improvements. Business owners can consult with experts free of charge to help find the option that can best work for them and all their customers.”

In this case, the “experts” are hvacr contractors, those who excel at solving indoor air quality (IAQ) issues for their customers. By using the Options program to help plan retrofits and new installations, contractors can use the deep pockets and marketing power of a big business that is making every effort to reach a compromise to a very emotional issue — smoking.

“This program gives contractors the opportunity to pass on their new technologies to their customers,” said Options’ Billy Abshaw. “Fifteen hundred business owners log onto our website every month for more information []. It is obviously a win-win situation for everyone.”

Referral Network

The program offers contractors the opportunity to become part of a nationwide referral network. Hospitality business owners can access the referral service

“We have over 200 qualified contractors accepted into the network,” said Abshaw.

If business owners have questions about the Options program and what can be done to improve the IAQ in their businesses, they can log onto the website and have questions answered. From that point on, if they wish to consult with an industry professional, they are given a choice of hvac contractors in their area who belong to the network.

“Business owners can then talk to contractors, and that’s where our job ends and theirs begins,” said Abshaw.

At no time does Options endorse or recommend equipment to business owners. That is left up to contractors. In fact, no manufacturers are involved in the program.

“We don’t involve manufacturers because it defeats the purpose of being a credible site,” stated Abshaw. “We can’t endorse one company if there are many offering the same solutions for customers.”

In fact, Options makes it clear to interested business owners that hvac professionals are a must for consulting. In its case studies’ literature, the following is spelled out very succinctly:

“Every business owner should seek the advice of ventilation professionals (i.e., contractors or engineers) to develop a plan appropriate to the particular site, use and capacity, and independently assess the level of experience of any hvac professional being considered.”

Case Studies Available

For business owners wishing to see the effects of proper IAQ, Options has several case studies available. One such study involves mechanical contractor Denny Rodgers of Kahn Mechanical, Dallas, TX. Rodgers has had a longstanding business relationship with Bill Moede, manager of the High Point restaurant in Dallas.

A couple of years ago, Moede noticed he was having a problem with IAQ. His smoking customers outnumbered the nonsmokers and he noticed a “haze” in the air during peak business hours.

“It was really a smoky bar,” said Rodgers. “My job was to basically clean up the air and exhaust out the smoke.”

Rodgers researched IAQ for restaurants and came up with a game plan. Knowing the facility needed a product that could produce 50 cubic feet per minute (cfm) of clean air per occupant, he concluded that the filtration system needed to have approximately a 2,500 cfm capacity. Moede purchased two duct electronic cleaners that handle 1,400 cfm each. The 2,800 cfm cleaning capacity has been a pleasant change for Moede’s patrons.

He installed the units in 1998. “I haven’t had one single complaint since,” he said. He said he keeps regular logs on when to change filters, too. The investment and maintenance has been worthwhile, Moede maintains.

Even though some municipalities and one state, California, have banned smoking in bars and restaurants, Abshaw said there is still the need for improved IAQ, smokers or not. Rogers added that with so many smoke-free buildings now, “We do more full a/c systems than just air filtration.”

For more information on becoming part of the Options IAQ Professional Referral Service, call 800-643-7040 or visit For a contractor’s perspective, call Rodgers at Kahn Mechanical, 214-631-1010.

Publication date: 07/23/2001