Hospitality Coalition for Indoor Air Quality

HCIAQ Unsuccessfully Attempts to Promote Smoke-Filled Ventilation Standards

As another avenue of attack in the tobacco industry's battle to promote ventilation as an alternative to sound smokefree policies, Philip Morris organized and funded a front group to carry its ventilation message. The Hospitality Coalition on Indoor Air Quality (HCIAQ) was comprised of representatives of tobacco industry-allied organizations in the hospitality, gambling, and ventilation fields.

HCIAQ sought to promote a smoke-filled ventilation standard with ASHRAE for hospitality venues. However, the group was unsuccessful in its efforts because ASHRAE resisted the tobacco industry pressures and instead headed the sound scientific information about secondhand smoke exposure and ventilation. As a result, in 2005 ASHRAE adopted a ventilation standard based on smokefree spaces and HCIAQ faded out of prominence.

Creating a Front Group
Internal tobacco industry documents from 1999 show how Philip Morris organized HCIAQ. To complete this task, it turned to Black, Kelley, Scruggs and Healey, a Washington, D.C. based public affairs subsidiary of the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller, the company Phillip Morris relied on to create the now-defunct and discredited front group, the National Smokers Alliance.

After installing Steve Grover of the National Restaurant Association and Erik Emblem of the National Energy Management Institute as figureheads of HCIAQ, Philip Morris gave the coalition at least $250,000 in seed money.

The stated goal of HCIAQ, in fact, was to:

"Educate regulators and legislators at the local, state and national levels, and the general public, on the costs to the hospitality industry of one-size-fits-all IAQ regulations and legislative solutions."

However, the point smokefree advocates should always stress is that ventilation does not work.

Target ASHRAE
Upon the Coalition's creation, Philip Morris cited that one of HCIAQ's main objectives was to infiltrate and influence the American Society for Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). At a Philip Morris Indoor Air Quality Technical Committee meeting, the coalition stated the following as being among its many goals:

"a. Appoint a hospitality industry liaison to participate in ASHRAE meetings.
b. Consider applying for allied membership to have hospitality industry representation.
c. Draft talking points to assist the hospitality industry in commenting to ASHRAE on addendum that may impact their business."

In 2002, through Coalition member the American Gaming Association and former Coalition member the National Restaurant Association, HCIAQ began lobbying ASHRAE to develop a separate ventilation standard for hospitality venues, including casinos, bars, and restaurants, to include ventilation rates for smoke-filled environments, making smoking and secondhand smoke appear more socially acceptable. Through the American Gaming Association and the National Restaurant Association, HCIAQ began gathering signatures to file a formal standard petition with ASHRAE.

At ASHRAE's Summer 2004 meeting, the Policy Board announced that the hospitality and gambling industries failed to collect enough valid signatures to file a formal request. As a result, the proposal was rescinded. After the summer meeting, HCIAQ's website was taken down and has not been reactivated.

Also since the 2004 meeting, the gaming and hospitality industry have taken a step back in pushing for ventilation at ASHRAE and no longer have an overt presence at meetings.

If organizations touting ventilation as a solution to the death and disease caused from secondhand smoke exposure appear in your community, contact ANR for more information and assistance.