Orlando: Will the Smoke Ever Clear?
By law, 80 percent of all hotel rooms in cities like Atlanta, Honolulu and Cleveland must be nonsmoking. In Philadelphia and Chicago, it's 75 percent, and in Detroit it's 70 percent. So what percentage of rooms in Orlando -- one of the world's most popular destinations for children -- are required by law to be nonsmoking?
Believe it or not, there is no law.
That's right, the city that received more than 45 million American travelers last year, a large percentage of them children, has no laws on the books mandating nonsmoking hotel rooms. That's despite the fact that 65 percent of visitors stay in them, and despite the fact that the U.S. Surgeon General has repeatedly warned against the dangers of kids inhaling second-hand smoke.
Restaurants, most bars and some hotels in Orlando are indeed smoke-free, but that was small consolation this past weekend, when I visited the town with my young son. Like many travelers, I had dutifully requested a nonsmoking room and was told by the hotel that every effort would be made to satisfy this request -- but of course there were no guarantees. Not only were we disappointed to find that there were no nonsmoking rooms available at the property (which was just a stone's throw from the Magic Kingdom), but we were assigned a room that so reeked of smoke it was unfit for smokers, much less nonsmokers. By the end of our stay, my son smelled as if he had a three-pack-a-day habit and I felt like going on the patch.
I could be wrong, but I find it galling to think that a destination so dependent on the patronage of children should be so heedless with regard to their health and comfort. The mayor and city council should be ashamed. Isn't it time -- if only for the sake of the children -- that Orlando joined cities like Austin, Cincinnati, Denver, Houston and Los Angeles in mandating at least a partial smoking ban on hotel rooms? What do you think?
By Scott Vogel |
April 22, 2008; 6:39 AM ET
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