Jul. 20 2006
Washington, DC — Marriott International, Inc., has taken a visionary step to protect the public's right to breathe clean air and set an example for other hotel chains to follow by announcing that all of its hotels in the United States and Canada will become completely smoke-free in September. This policy will cover more than 2,300 hotels and corporate apartments and nearly 400,000 guest rooms. Marriott becomes the second major hotel chain to adopt a comprehensive smoke-free policy, following a similar announcement by Westin Hotels & Resorts in December 2005.
Marriott's new policy is an appropriate response to the overwhelming and indisputable evidence, confirmed by the recent U.S. Surgeon General's report, that secondhand smoke causes serious diseases and premature death. We're also pleased that Marriott acknowledged that going smoke-free is good for business. As Chairman and CEO J.W. Marriott, Jr., stated today, “Our family of brands is united on this important health issue and we anticipate very positive customer feedback.”
The smoke-free policies adopted by Marriott, Westin and other businesses, as well as state and local governments around the country, reflect both the broad scientific consensus that secondhand smoke poses a serious threat to human health and the growing public consensus that no one should have to endure these risks in order to earn a living, including restaurant, bar and hotel employees. It is time for every state and community to protect the public's right to breathe clean air by enacting comprehensive smoke-free laws that include all workplaces and public places.
In issuing his groundbreaking report on secondhand smoke on June 27, U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona stated, “The debate is over. The science is clear: Secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance, but a serious health hazard.” The Surgeon General found that secondhand smoke is a proven cause of lung cancer, heart disease, serious respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis and asthma, low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome. The Surgeon General also found that secondhand smoke is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in the United States each year and that there is no risk-free level of exposure.
The Surgeon General's report also confirmed that smoke-free laws protect health without harming business. Dozens of studies and hard economic data have shown that smoke-free laws do not harm sales or employment in restaurants and bars and sometimes have a positive impact. Some of the strongest evidence comes from New York City, where a report found that, in the year after the city's comprehensive smoke-free law took effect March 30, 2003, business receipts for restaurants and bars increased, employment rose, the number of liquor licenses increased, virtually all establishments are complying with the law, and the vast majority of New Yorkers support the law.
In the U.S., 14 states, Washington, DC and Puerto Rico have now passed smoke-free laws that include restaurants and bars. The states are: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii (effective Nov. 16), Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Washington (the Montana and Utah laws extend to bars in 2009, while the DC law does so on January 1, 2007). Two other states – Florida and Idaho – have smoke-free laws that exempt only stand-alone bars. Hundreds of cities and counties have also passed strong smoke-free laws.
At least 11 countries have enacted nationwide smoke-free laws that include restaurants and bars. They are Bermuda, Bhutan, England (effective 2007), Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Northern Ireland (effective 2007), Norway, Scotland, Sweden, and Uruguay.