Marriott Hotels are about to violate its no-smoking policy–which went into effect in September 2006–when its New York Marriott Marquis property hosts an event for Cigar Aficionado magazine next month.
There are two issues involved first, New York City law prohibits smoking anywhere in a hotel though it does exempt smoking in rooms that are “used exclusively for functions where the public is invited for the primary purpose of promoting and sampling tobacco products, and the service of food and drink is incidental to such purpose.” The event is being promoted, food and drink are not incidental, but an integral part of the event. This is an issue in that non-smoking Marriott hotel staff will be forced to be exposed to harmful second hand smoke. It is unclear if staff that refuse to work the event will lose their job.
The second issue is that Marriott’s own stated policy to be 100 percent smoke free, which includes all guest rooms, restaurants, lounges, meeting rooms, public space and employee work areas. Once a corporation makes a public promise, they’re bound by it unless they publicly announce that they’re changing it. For example, a recent case where McDonald’s paid an $8 million settlement for not publicizing a delay in implementing its publicly announced promise to remove trans fat from its food. Marriott simply cannot grasp the honorable title of 100% Non-smoking hotels and all of the press and other good things that come from that declaration…and then not honor that policy.
Kathleen Duffy, public relations at Marriott Hotels, says that while it is true that Marriott International announced last year that its hotels in North America would be smoke-free, Marriott has a contractual obligation to hold the event. Duffy adds that the hotel plans to do major commercial cleaning, filtering, and venting of the Marquis ballroom, where the Big Smoke will be held. She also says, “I can confirm that we have a contract [for the Big Smoke event] for this year and at least next year at the Marriott Marquis.”
This year the American Public Health Association will be holding it annual meeting in Washington DC. Some participants will be staying at the Marriott at Metro Center the week of November 5. If the Marriott continues I would suggest that all APHA members Boycott all Marriott hotels during the 2008 October 25-29 annual meeting in San Diego.