Smoking or Non: Are Your Events Kicking the Habit?

Non Smoking EventsU.S. President Barack Obama signed a historic anti-smoking bill yesterday in the hopes that it will help the millions of Americans finally kick the habit. The new law gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate tobacco just like it regulates all the other products consumed by the public.

Among the powers provided by the bill are the ability to regulate what goes into tobacco products, make public the ingredients, ban the marketing of "light cigarettes," and prohibit marketing campaigns geared toward children.

In the hospitality world, it seems like smoking has been falling out of favor for quite a while. Marriott's U.S. and Canadian hotel properties went smoke free a few years back. Westin Hotels & Resorts implemented a brand-wide smoke free policy in 2006.

Additionally, smoking bans in restaurants and public gathering places are becoming more and more commonplace, with such bans in effect in over 20 states including New York, California, and just recently, Virginia.

It seems like they're just meeting demands. According to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study, nearly nine out of 10 guests (89 percent) say they prefer a smoke free hotel environment. Meanwhile, health organizations such as the National Cancer Institute and American Heart Association have policies in place regarding smoke free site selection when it comes to meeting destinations.

Though it's clear that meeting venues and planners are going for smoke free events, the very high number of Americans who smoke may prefer otherwise. So I want to know your thoughts. Do your meeting attendees expect non-smoking events? Or, do you actually have to make efforts to ensure that smoking is permitted at your venues?
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