Westin does the right thing

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I applaud Westin Hotels & Resorts for banning smoking. Itâ€â„¢s about time a hotel chain takes a stand for health. Westin announced Dec. 5 that starting in January, it will ban smoking indoors and poolside at all of its 77 properties in North America and the Caribbean. Itâ€â„¢s probably easier for an upscale chain like Westin to announce such a ban than for a midscale or budget brand; Westin clientele is likely more health-conscious to begin with. But Iâ€â„¢d rather not stereotype. All I want to do is cheer. That Westin will fine violators by tacking on $200 to their bill puts teeth into the prohibition.

I donâ€â„¢t think the ban and its enforcement means Westin hotels will become enclaves of the righteous or that there will be smoke police in the lobbies. I think it means that Westin is deepening its health and wellness culture—a good thing.

Some argue that banning smoking violates the principle of freedom of assembly and steps on individual rights. Some probably still think smoking is all right; God knows itâ€â„¢s newly cool among the young, and Hollywood clings to its promotion of it as hip and chic. But former smokers, like me, and people who never smoked, know better. Clean air is a right, not a privilege.

One reason I donâ€â„¢t go to bars much anymore is that they allow smoking. That means that once I get home, I reek of smoke even though I havenâ€â„¢t touched a cigarette. Westinâ€â„¢s announcement means that beginning next year, all Westin hotels and resorts will have clean air and probably smell good. Health and wellness begin at home. Hats off to Westin for extending that winningly residential concept to the hotel.

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