Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Hooray for Westin Hotels!

Hotel rooms have enough mysterious stains and smells without adding cigarettes to the mix. According to this AP article today, the Westin chain is the first to go 100% smoke-free. Starting January 1, they'll have a no-smoking policy in the guest rooms, hallways, restaurants, and lobbies, as well as by the pool; anyone who stinks up a room by smoking will be charged a $200 cleaning fee.

Now, if Chicago would just pass a smoking ban for its restaurants and bars, I'd be all set. The City Council is contemplating a restaurant smoking ban, but I think they plan to exempt bars—why must the universe conspire to make it harder for me to go out drinking? Why?

Update: Hooray! The Chicago City Council just approved an ordinance today (Dec. 7) that bans smoking in virtually all public places in the city. Restaurant bars and taverns are granted 2½ years to come into compliance.


Mignon said...

Smoking bans rock! Montana passed one this year, exempting bars/casinos. You know we're all wearing those giant parkas and wool hats and such over here, and those things soak up that rank smell like tampons (sponge didn't seem to fit there).
Now if hotels could just start laundering that top bed cover. You know, the one that absorbs the various bodily fluids of every single guest, and is then nestled up to your nose and mouth as you sleep.

Orange said...

Mignon, you're right. Tampons do soak up smells, don't they? And stop snuggling the hotel bedspread up to your face! My sister strips the bedspreads off immediately upon check-in and stashes them on the floor. Also? Don't touch the blanket. Keep the edges segregated from your flesh with the sheet. I doubt those blankets get washed or replaced much more than the bedspreads.

Agent 31 said...

This is one of the areas in which I am truly an asshole, but I support smoking bans in places that people who don't smoke have to be. The reasons being:

1.) If you don't smoke, there is nothing funkier, nastier and more sickening than cigarette funk. Plus, that shit gets in your hair and clothes and... ew, you have to be all nasty because somebody else needed a fix.

2.) Smoking is a 100% voluntary activity. You knew you weren't supposed to be doing that shit when you started, so don't look for empathy now. If smoking was something people were born with or predisposed to, I could see having leniency, but, man, you knew the deal going in.

3.) Second hand smoke? Kills people. People who didn't ask for it.

Anonymous said...

I hate cigarette smoke. I can't stand the way it smells and the way the scent clings to things. I don't like that people are stupid enough to inhale known carcinogens.

That said, I can't support government smoking bans because they violate the rights of property owners to conduct business on their own property as they see fit. Consumers have the right to choose which businesses they patronize (including boycotting a business that allows smoking, for example), a right that can lead to changes in the way businesses are run (if enough people refuse to patronize a bar that allows smoking, that bar may ban it on its own). However, rights do not properly include the right to use government coercion to force business owners to run their businesses as nonsmokers want them to.

Yes, secondhand smoke is disgusting and dirty and even carcinogenic. But you, the consumer, are not entitled to avoid it by passing a law -- only by staying away from places that allow smoking.

Where I do think a smoking ban would make sense: in public places, like sidewalks. The NYC smoking ban has only driven smokers to stand in clusters outside of bars/restaurants/offices/etc., puffing away, where passersby often can't avoid getting a faceful of smoke.

Anonymous said...

My husband does the same thing with hotel bedspreads.
As for smoking bans, one just passed here in Columbus in November 2004. I'm a little ashamed to admit that even though I used to be a smoker, I voted for it. I never had a problem with going outside to smoke though.

DoctorMama said...

The last Westin I stayed at also did a cool thing with the blankets: they encased them entirely in sheets, in this fancy folding way. It was cozy and clean at the same time!

Chris said...

Stella said:
"I hate cigarette smoke. I can't stand the way it smells and the way the scent clings to things. I don't like that people are stupid enough to inhale known carcinogens"

Let me ask you this: Do you eat bacon? Or Sausage? Or Ham? Or Corned Beef? Or any other food which is preserved using nitrates?

If you answered 'yes' to any of those questions, then you are not only inhaling known carcinogens, but you are also ingesting them in greater quantities than those found in cigarette smoke. Even second-hand smoke.

I am a smoker, and I have no problem with the ban on smoking in restaurants, department stores, etc. In fact, I support them (who wants to buy a brand new shirt, only to get it home and find it reeking of stale smoke??)

I do, however, draw the line at banning smoking in bars. Yes, smoking is a personal choice, but so is drinking. Why should one social group be punished for their vice, so that others may enjoy theirs? Both are adult activities, both are voluntary (for the most part...there are exceptions), and both have been traditionally combined in the same place for generations. If you go into a bar, you should expect smoke. It's been that way for decades. It really shouldn't surprise anyone.

Why should I give up having a smoke while I drink, just so you can have the same drink smoke-free? My money is just as good as anyone else's, and I work just as hard for it.

Please know that I am using the word "you" in the universal sense...not pointing anyone out. I understand that Stella is opposed to Federally mandated smoking bans, and her reasons are sound. So are her suggested alternatives.


Sass said...

I tend to agree with Chris on this one. I'm all about smoking laws everywhere except bars.

If there is enough demand, individual bars have all the rights in the world to make their bars smoke-free.

They don't, because when people go out to drink, they want to smoke. I've seen almost every confirmed nonsmoker I know light one up from time to time. And when half the people in the bar are out on the sidewalks instead of buying drinks, well, they know where their bread is buttered.

Orange said...

Actually, I learned of two smoke-free places in my neighborhood where I can go have a drink without being expected to order a meal. One has a folkie coffeehouse vibe and one's a hot new gay bar.

Agent 31 said...

I support non-smoking bars.

Drinking is a vice that is hazardous to your own health. Same for eating nitrates in bacon and everything else. Smoking is killing the guy next to you. Very, very different.

Naturally, I wouldn't expect the censure to come from the gov't because, as you've all said, a business has the right to choose whether or not they want to allow smoking. But I do applaud any bar that takes it upon themselves to do as much.

kas said...

That's great news. I live in Georgia and you can't smoke anywhere here except outside I think...

Chris said...

Let's all be mindful of the fact that there is absolutely no positive proof that "second-hand smoke" is hazardous to your health. There are theories and assumptions, based on some rather lackluster clinical data, but there is no proof. No more so than if I were to say "eating carrots causes airline accidents". Certainly the vast majority of people who have been involved in airline accidents have eaten carrots at one time or another... but that is certainly not proof that there is any direct correlation.

Recently, many research scientists in the field of indocrinology have started to suggest that a person will not contract lung cancer, even if they smoke 10 packs a day (or go to a bar where people smoke) unless they are genetically pre-disposed to it. It requires more research, obviously, but the results so far are pretty interesting.

Decades ago, the vast majority of the adult (and juvenile) population smoked cigarettes and cigars, and they did so in public, all the time. In recent years, the smoking rate has declined, but yet there has been a huge rise in the instances of lung cancer (and various other cancers). If smoking in bars had any direct link to a person becoming ill, you would think that the number of cases would decrease as more and more bars ban smoking in their public areas. This is not the case.

Emphesyma, Bronchitis, and various other respiratory problems are certainly caused/aggravated by smoking, however. Yet, again, there is no positive proof that "second hand smoke" is the culprit. Simply being in a bar where people are smoking does not seem to be enough to cause any adverse health conditions.

In short, it's reactionary clap-trap fueled by the non-smoking community, simply because they do not like the smell of it on their clothes.

I, personally, don't like walking into a public restroom after someone has dumped a massive load in the stall next to me.... but I'm certainly not going to call for a ban on public pooping simply because it offends my delicate sensibilities.

Many people cry "foul" when the government tries to stick their noses into private matters (gay marriage, abortion, civil rights, etc), but are more than happy to vote for a non-smoking ban. It's hipocritical, to say the least. Basically, what it amounts to is similar to saying "don't mess with MY personal space...mess with THEIRS".

And suggesting that a ban on smoking on sidewalks would be appropriate is simply ludicrous! What next? Internment camps for homosexuals? Mandatory execution after age 65? The car you drove downtown to do your holiday shopping emits more pollutants into the air than 100 smokers on the sidewalk. Why not suggest a ban on public driving??

Sorry for the rant. I should have saved it for my own blog :)


Orange said...

Chris, stuff it.

Quit pretending medical research has not documented links between secondhand smoke and disease in nonsmokers.

Quit exaggerating—"a vast majority" of people smoked a few decades ago? I'd say "vast majority+ = 85% or more. Nonsense.

Quit ignoring the fact that smoke aggravates people's allergies and asthma. A good friend of mine often needs her asthma inhaler after "simply being in a bar" where people are smoking. I suppose her airways aren't really constricting, she's just pretending to cough and wheeze? Good thing asthma can't kill people. Oh...wait. It can.

Quit pretending that nonsmoking laws oppress you. Stay home, go outside, or sit in your car and smoke all you want. Knock yourself out.

Why no ban on public driving? Consider the public good. With cars (and public transit), people can get to work and school, see their doctors, pick up groceries to feed their families, visit their grandparents, etc. There is no public good associated with smoking. None.

As for gay camps or execution of the elderly—gimme a break.

Agent 31 said...

Second hand smoke makes a non-smoker sick.
Cancer? I dunno - ask a scientist.
Asthma attacks? Sure, my wife will attest to that.
Allergy flare-ups? I'll own up to that one myself.
Headaches and nausea? Absolutely.

The bottom line is this:
I don't care how people choose to kill themselves. They can sit next to me in a bar and shoot heroin. They can ride next to me on a plane and drink lead paint. They can stay in the coma and have their feeding tubes pulled out. I don't care. It's your life, enjoy the hell out of it and do whatever makes you happy all day every day. I'm not anyone's (except my kid's) daddy.

If the way you choose to kill yourself infringes on my health involuntarily, then I've got a problem with it. Traditionally, bars whatever. Vices ride together, sure - fine. Nobody is allowed to make me sick because they want to catch a buzz.

Sergei C. said...

I smoked my very last cigarette in Chicago, 9 years ago. Just in case you were wondering.

Orange said...

I had been wondering, in fact.

JT said...

I'm quite happy about the ban. I'm sorry (to a degree) if it affects businesses -- especially small ones -- but it will definitely make many places more pleasant for everyone.

I know how many people feel about smoking in bars, but it will be nice to know that I will be able to go see a band at Martyr's without having to fumigate myself from head-to-toe afterwards.

(Oh, and Orange, nicely put up there!)

Chris said...

"Quit pretending medical research has not documented links between secondhand smoke and disease in nonsmokers."

Medical research has NOT documented links between secondhand smoke and disease in nonsmokers. Show me the study. Show me the proof. Until very recently, the WARNING on cigarette packs idicated smoking "may" cause deleterious health effects. It is an assumption, and nothing more. Certainly, dosing a laboratory animal with enough nicotine to kill an adult human male will cause some ill-effects. However, there is no imperical evidence to suggest that the average smoker is placing their own health, or the health of others, at any greater risk than if they were drinking their daily coffee. And, while it may be pretty obvious that smoking is a ticket to self-annihilation, there is no proof. And, the point of all this is that the government (at any level) cannot make laws based on medical "thoeries."

"Quit exaggerating—"a vast majority" of people smoked a few decades ago? I'd say "vast majority+ = 85% or more. Nonsense."

You'd say a vast majority = 85% or more? Why? A majority is merely anything above 50.1 % During the eras encompassing the 1930's through the 1950's the majority of the adult population DID smoke. That's how tobacco companies got to be the powerhouses they are today. Check the statistics.

"Quit ignoring the fact that smoke aggravates people's allergies and asthma."

I'm not ignoring that fact. I mentioned it in my original post.

"Quit pretending that nonsmoking laws oppress you. Stay home, go outside, or sit in your car and smoke all you want. "

Why should I have to? Seriously... I'd like to hear one solid reason why I should have to "sit in my car" to smoke, when smoking is a legal activity. The simpler alternative would be, if I were a non-smoker, to avoid those places which I knew allowed smoking. In this way, no one's rights are being trampled on.

"Why no ban on public driving? Consider the public good. With cars (and public transit), people can get to work and school, see their doctors, pick up groceries to feed their families, visit their grandparents, etc. There is no public good associated with smoking. None."

That is one person's opinion. I could point to any number of reasons why automobiles are a nuisance to the public well-being, and the well-being of the planet, but that will have to wait for another time.

"As for gay camps or execution of the elderly—gimme a break."

Merely using absurdity to illustrate absurdity...


Orange said...

Chris: "Vast majority" was your wording. I doubt the percentage of the US population that smoked ever approached what could fairly be termed a "vast" majority (which implies way more than 50.1%).

Drinking beer is legal, and yet many localities have laws against having open containers of liquor out on the sidewalk. Sex and nudity are legal, but not in public. Driving 55 is legal, but not on roads with lower speed limits. Are people's rights being infringed when they obey these limitations? No.

phlegmfatale said...

Several years back I was performing with a group of classical singers in Chicago and we stayed at the official guest hotel for the Jerry Springer show. In addition to hourly floor shows in the lobby and embarrassing encounters on elevators, we were treated to a lobby awash in stale smoke, stringy horizontal tendrils of the stuff hanging unmolested in a haze beginning about 5 feet from the floor. It was too brutally cold to wait for cabs outside so we were a captive audience. Seems like it was the official flight attendant hotel too - they lingered awaiting shuttles looking well-groomed and all smoked up. Good for Chicago - for a bit I thought I was in Europe. But as with smoking, smoking bans in moderation, please. One can go too far with the restrictive bullshit.