Hotels partially exempt from Montana’s smoke-free law

Nearly all facilities in Montana have gone-smoke free with the recent full implementation of the Montana Clean Indoor Air Act, but hotels are still partially exempt from the smoke-free rule.

The law, enacted in 2005 and implemented fully in October 2009, allows hotels to offer 35% of their rooms as smoking rooms, and the rest have to be smoke-free.

When Davidene Tait became the manager of the Triple Crown Motor Inn in downtown Great Falls, she immediately started to implement changes, including converting 40 of the rooms to non-smoking rooms.

Now, the Triple-Crown has gone from having 50 smoking rooms to just ten in just four years. Tait says she’d like to see a fully smoke-free establishment, but because the Inn is trying to accommodate all guests, it doesn’t look likely.

Hotels partially exempt from Montana's smoke-free law

Hotels partially exempt from Montana's smoke-free law

Tait said, “Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s going to be feasible. It would cost quite a bit of revenue for the Triple-Crown. In a perfect world, I would like to. But I just don’t see it feasible on this property. I don’t.”

The Triple-Crown is just one of many area hotels implementing partial smoking rules.

The City County Health Department says hotels can decide their own rules within the layout of the law.

Teddy Nault, a health educator with the CCHD, said, “They can make that decision for themselves as such. Especially the larger chains.”

Before a recent decision from the City Commission repealing an ordinance to prevent smoking within 20-feet of buildings, the Triple Crown enacted it’s own rule to ban smokers from lighting up anywhere on the property – something that Tait says has been hard to enforce.

Tait explained, “We started trying to enforce this rule back in May, and it’s been difficult to try to enforce, because people want to go out onto balconies, go out into the parking lot to try to smoke. It hasn’t been a popular policy.”

The CCHD also says many hotels have chosen to go smoke-free on their own to save money on clean-up costs and fire insurance.

Some other hotels we talked to say they have either chosen to go completely smoke-free – some of them long before the ban was even enacted- or are offering well below the state’s allowance of 35% of smoking rooms.


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