It was difficult not to get personally caught up in the emotionally charged forum, “Should ASHRAE Develop a Separate IAQ Standard for the Hospitality Industry?” Whether you’re a smoker or nonsmoker, patron or business owner, it’s difficult to remain impartial.

Like it or not, tobacco smoke has infiltrated our lives. Know any smokers who have had emphysema, heart disease, or cancer? Ever been told to light up outside, or get dagger eyes and not-so-subtle coughing from nonsmokers? (Ever been the cougher?) Ever go for a drink after work and come home reeking of cigarette smoke, even though you don’t smoke?

The emotional responses could even run deeper. Since the hospitality industry consists of bars and casinos, as well as restaurants, attending this forum could remind you of a family member who seems to spend more time at the bar than at home … or a close friend who gambled away their savings. With the ASHRAE Winter Meeting being held in Atlantic City, NJ, you didn’t have to look far to see people who may have done just that.


With so many issues clouding the topic, it would be too easy to become judgmental. Why stop with smoking? Shouldn’t bars and casinos be banned — entirely? Look at all the risks to health and home.

Of course these are extremes. There is such a thing as a casual drink. There is such a thing as harmless gambling. And there are all manner of gradations between harmless and harmful; every individual over the age of 21 must determine the boundaries for himself or herself.

The crazy quilt of legislation covering smoking, gaming, and drinking doesn’t make it any easier to sort out. Smoking tobacco in public is legal — except where it isn’t.

Still crazier is the idea that nonsmoking proponents would object to a ventilation standard for hospitality venues, while the owners of those venues would embrace it. I haven’t counted recently, but I believe the number of communities with partial smoking bans far outnumbers those with 100% bans.

I appreciated that smokers and nonsmokers were able to express their opinions at this forum. The smoking side, indeed, was mostly represented by bar and restaurant owners, particularly those from communities with 100% smoking bans. Their concerns seemed real and legitimate.

But so did the concerns of nonsmoking advocates, however dramatically they were stated. Having tobacco smoke classed as a carcinogen leaves very little room for dissent. People may hem and haw about whether a drink a day is a good or bad thing, but as one participant pointed out, “You just don’t get better from lung cancer.”


Based solely on my own observations, I don’t think there will be a separate ventilation standard for smoking venues. There are too many mixed-use buildings, like commercial highrises that have a restaurant/bar on the main floor.

The extra design, installation, and maintenance costs involved with implementing a “smoking space” standard will probably kill it before it gets into the starting gate. This is just speculation. I have no involvement with this standard committee.

What does seem clear to me is that ventilating the hospitality industry offers a huge business opportunity for hvac design and installation contracting firms. Learn more about ventilation equipment, systems, and designs for smoke-filled areas.

The information is out there. So are the opportunities, even outside the hospitality industry. I know one contractor whose specialty is providing air purification for smoking lounges in funeral homes. (Now there’s a niche that won’t become obsolete.)

The hvac industry has the ability to decrease the amount of indoor airborne contaminants, if people are willing to pay for it. The rest is semantics.

Checket-Hanks is service/maintenance and troubleshooting editor. She can be reached at 313-368-5856; 313-368-5857 (fax); (e-mail).

Publication date: 02/11/2002