Non-Smoking Policies and Third-Hand Smoke

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Jan 6, 2015
the United States
With the recent (February of 2021) threads about smoking charges, I searched for definitive and authoritative sources. The technical term for the "transfer" of smoke, of which I was unaware, is "third-hand smoke".

For related information, I was able to locate this posting from the Cleveland Clinic: Third-Hand Smoke

"When you smoke in a room or car, toxic chemicals like nicotine cling to walls, clothing, upholstery and other surfaces, as well as your skin"
This and others I found validate the principle that smoke can indeed adhere to a variety of items and subsequently transfer elsewhere.

Next, I sought to better understand "non-smoking policies" and first checked Hertz: Hertz Non-Smoking Policy

How is it determined that a vehicle has been smoked in?

A Hertz employee must either:

Witness the customer smoking in a vehicle, or
Find evidence of smoking, such as ashes, cigarette butts or burns, or
*Smell smoke within the vehicle* (emphasis mine)[/size]
Checking Avis/Budget reveals similar language

I then moved on to hotels and found this FAQ from Hilton dated 2017: General Information

Q: Do you allow smoking on property? In the rooms?
A: Our property is a smoke-free hotel, therefore smoking is not allowed in the guest rooms, only in designated smoking areas.
Their answer ("designated smoking areas") creates a situation where third-hand smoke could be transferred to the room, and thus a Hilton property could not, I think, assess a fee in those instances UNLESS the franchise specifies otherwise. Marriott and Wyndham have similar language.

While this does nor cover every Car Rental Agency or Hotel Chain it is reasonable, I think to expect that "third-hand smoke" is not allowed when renting a car. As always, I think it is wise for renters and guests to review the applicable policies before booking and plan their stays/rentals accordingly.
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