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Smoking cleanup costs

Published (2/22/2008)
By Craig Green
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Currently, anyone caught lighting up in a nonsmoking hotel or motel room could be charged no more than $100.

If signed into law, HF1825, sponsored by Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL-Mpls), would fine the smoker for the cost of restoring the room to its original condition. The bill was approved by the House Public Safety and Civil Justice Committee Feb. 14, and sent to the House floor.

David Siegel, president and CEO of the Minnesota Lodging Association, said that according to association findings, each incident can cost an establishment between $225 and $250 for clean up, and it happens approximately twice a month. This adds up to a yearly cost of $6,000, and only 20 to 25 percent of the cost is recouped, he said.

On each registration form, there is an agreement that the guest will pay an extra charge if they smoke in a nonsmoking room, said Mike Woitas, general manager of Country Inn & Suites in Albert Lea. What happens more often than not, Woitas said, is that the credit card companies will not cover the smoking room charges and the hotel is stuck with the cost.

Cleaning up after the smokers can be rather involved, because the hotel or motel may have to clean the drapes, carpets, blankets, comforters and replace the pillows, Woitas said.

Rep. John Lesch (DFL-St. Paul) questioned whether one could tell if someone had been smoking in a room without seeing them do it. Woitas said that besides the smell of smoke, there is usually evidence left behind such as ashes and cigarette butts.

SF2809, the companion bill sponsored by Sen. D. Scott Dibble (DFL-Mpls), awaits action by the Senate Health, Housing and Family Security Committee.

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