Travelers Irked By Cloudy Smoking Rules at Hotels and Restaurants

A new survey reveals that nearly 90 percent of the traveling public believe hotels and restaurants need to be clearer about whether they are smoking or non-smoking

Aug 9, 2007 05:00

NEEDHAM, Mass., -- A new survey reveals that nearly 90 percent of the traveling public believe hotels and restaurants need to be clearer about whether they are smoking or non-smoking establishments, and where exactly smoking is permitted and prohibited.

Eighty-six percent of travelers surveyed are non-smokers. While only 14 percent identified themselves as smokers, 23 percent admitted to "social- smoking." Twenty-two percent of travelers said that visiting a city or country where smoking is prohibited is "always" a consideration, while 34 percent said it is "sometimes" a consideration. Whether a destination prohibits smoking is a bigger consideration among smokers than non-smokers.

The Smokes on You

The biggest smoking pet peeve among respondents was checking into a designated non-smoking room, only to find it reeking of smoke, according to nearly 50 percent. Thirty-six percent most resent having smoke waft on to them from another table at a restaurant. Among Europeans, the restaurant smoke violation is a greater offense than checking into a smoky hotel room.


Stub it Out

Twenty-eight percent of travelers surveyed said they "always" avoid locations where smoking is allowed in public places (such as certain restaurants and hotel lobbies), 39 percent said it is something they "sometimes" avoid.

Fifty-three percent of respondents agreed that smoking bans are "the greatest thing since sliced bread." Twenty-one percent believe that smoking bans create a new nuisance, with smokers congregating outside of restaurant and hotel entrances.

Smoke 'Em if You've Got 'Em

About one-quarter (26 percent) of respondents believe there is a need for hotels in which smoking is permitted in all areas, eliminating the need for "smoking floors," in otherwise non-smoking hotels. About one-third of travelers surveyed (33 percent) believe smokers should be allowed to puff away in open-air restaurants and line/queues. Six percent of respondents said smoking bans are unnecessary.

No Butts About It

When asked how they address people who violate non-smoking areas, 39 percent said they move to another area, 22 percent ignore it, and 19 percent ask the perpetrator to stop or move. Twenty percent go so far as to call management. Europeans are more confrontational than Americans, as about one quarter will ask a smoker to stop or move, compared to only 15 percent of those from the U.S., who are far more likely to just move to another area.

When asked about the fines for smoking violations, 53 percent said they are not familiar with the fines, 23 percent said they are too small, 17 percent said just right, and seven percent believe they are excessive.

Puffing Profusely in Paris

According to the survey, France is the "smokiest" country in the world by a landslide 25 percent of the vote, followed by the U.S. and China, with seven percent each.

"Travelers, for the most part, seem to have a 'live and let smoke' philosophy," said Michele Perry, director of communications for TripAdvisor. "While there is a public outcry for restaurants and hotels to better define smoking areas, it is interesting to note that one third of respondents actually support smokers' rights in open-air restaurants and lines."