Almost all public venues throughout Montana have become smoke-free when the Montana Clean Air Act was implemented last month; however, hotels got an exemption from the statewide measure. The legislation, introduced in 2005 and entered into effect two months ago, permits hotels to leave 35 percent rooms for the guests eager to smoke inside while the remaining 65 percent must become non-smoking.
When Richard Stewart became the owner of the Crazy Loop Motor Inn in Billings, he began to changes the rules right away. In just three months, he managed to make 40 percent of the rooms smoke-free. Today, the Crazy Loop has only 10 rooms where smoking is permitted, down from 50 just three years ago. Stewart admits he would be glad to make his entire premise smoke-free, however, since the hotel is eager to accommodate every visitor, he does not think the change is likely to happen.
The Montana Hoteliers Associations struggled to get a partial exemption from the anti-smoking law. “To my regret, I don’t believe that it would be workable in the nearest future. The switch to become an entirely non-smoking place, would hit the revenues of the Crazy Loop”, said Stewart. Of course, I would be glad to see the place smoke-free, but it just won’t bring the necessary amount of profit in this way.
The Crazy Loop is one of the majority of hotels across the state dealing with the latest anti-smoking law. The Montana State Department of Public Health admits that hotels can decide for themselves whether they would like to become completely non-smoking or provide accommodation for smokers. Victoria Hamilton, a senior manager for health education at the CCHD, acknowledged that the hotel owners should make their premises smoke free at their own will.
Hamilton said that the Department made an attempt to enforce that measure back in Spring, however, it has been hard to track since people are willing to light up on their balconies or in the parking. Therefore, the policy has not been a successful one this far. Although the majority of the hotels in the state still permit smoking in a small number of the rooms, there are places that had adopted their own strict anti-smoking rules long before the bill was implemented.
The data shows that several hotels had decided to become non-smoking in order to cut expenses on cleaning the smoking-related litter.