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Halting Hotel Vaping

Key points:

  • A universal ban and/or continuous enforcement of preventing e-cigarette use in hotels is needed.

  • Hotel guests deserve not to be exposed to secondhand and thirdhand smoke.

  • It’s important to stop guests from vaping in hotel rooms with improved detection.

drawing of vape detector in hotel room

While no-smoking policies are commonplace in hotels, they are not universal – plus, most were written before e-cigarettes and vape devices became widely available and used. Also, hotels’ limited ability to monitor guest vaping and e-cigarette use is an added concern. Fortunately, with comprehensive and enforced policies, hotels can be among the many places free of vaping.

Smoke-free policies lack specificity

A search of various hotel websites reveals ambiguous smoke-free policies. While some highlight being “a smoke-free environment,” there’s often no mention of e-cigarettes or vaping, specifically. This leads to more questions than answers of what is and is not allowed.

Policies and their impact on guests

A first-of-its-kind study examined how existing smoking policies protect guests from exposure to tobacco, electronic cigarette and cannabis – abbreviated as TEC-smoke.

Study logistics include:

  • An analysis of guest reviews on

  • A sample of 477 hotels in 10 large U.S. cities

  • A focus on TEC-related complaints by guests who deliberately tried to protect themselves from secondhand smoke or thirdhand smoke exposure by making reservations for nonsmoking rooms or in 100% smoke-free hotels

Study results regarding TEC-related complaints include:

  • 80% were associated with thirdhand smoke residue lingering in hotels from previous guests

  • 10% were related to secondhand tobacco smoke intrusion, and 10% with cannabis

  • Hotels that adopted a 100% smoke-free policy showed, on average, 26% fewer complaints than hotels that allow smoking in some hotel rooms

The researchers note that it is difficult to attribute secondhand and thirdhand odor, discoloration or burn marks to a specific product or combination of products. And some of the complaints attributed to tobacco smoke may have been caused by electronic cigarettes or cannabis. Also, the researchers suspect the number of TEC-related complaints is likely to be an undercount due to guests not always reporting or choosing to provide in writing on TripAdvisor.

Taking action

Although it has been previously claimed that secondhand and thirdhand exposure to e-cigarette emissions are lower than those associated with conventional cigarettes, e-cigarettes are nevertheless a source of indoor chemical exposure. A uniform, comprehensive building-wide ban for vape devices and e-cigarettes among all hotels would allow guests seeking to be free of secondhand and thirdhand smoke pollution caused by tobacco, cannabis and electronic cigarette use much-needed reassurance. Until uniform bans are in place, here are some tips:

  • Choose 100% smoke-free hotels; confirm that e-cigarettes and vape devices are prohibited.

  • Inquire if there are vape detectors present at the hotel property.

  • Provide feedback to hotels and/or travel websites with either appreciation or disapproval of their policies, and book accordingly

The bottom line

Enhancing efforts at restricting vaping at hotels is an important and achievable goal for health and safety purposes.

By Linda Antinoro

Reviewed by Cindy Bistany, DHSc


  1. Weigel EA, Matt GE. When hotel guests complain about tobacco, electronic cigarettes, and cannabis: Lessons for implementing smoking bans. Tob Use Insights. 2022 Sep 5; 15:1179173X221124900. doi: 10.1177/1179173X221124900. PMID: 36090650.

  2. Kristen Yeh, Li Li, Frank Wania, Jonathan P.D. Abbatt, Thirdhand smoke from tobacco, e-cigarettes, cannabis, methamphetamine and cocaine: Partitioning, reactive fate, and human exposure in indoor environments. Environment International. Volume 160. 2022 February


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