The Board of Directors for the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the international standard-setting body for indoor air quality, unanimously adopted an important position statement on secondhand tobacco smoke at its Summer 2005 conference in June.

ASHRAE's Position Document on Environmental Tobacco Smoke is now public and can be distributed.

This ASHRAE statement reaffirms:

  • There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Ventilation and other air filtration technologies cannot eliminate all the health risks caused by secondhand smoke exposure.
  • Tobacco smoke does not belong in indoor areas.
  • Marijuana smoke should not be allowed indoors.
  • Emissions from electronic smoking devices should not be allowed indoors.

The American Society for Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineering (ASHRAE) is the organization that develops engineering standards for building ventilation systems. ASHRAE now bases its ventilation standard for acceptable indoor air quality on an environment that is completely free from secondhand tobacco smoke, secondhand marijuana smoke, and emissions from electronic smoking devices. CITATION: ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2013, Addenda 2015 - Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality. ta, GA: American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. Atlanta, GA: American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. Library/docLib/StdsAddenda/62_1_2013_2015Supplement_20150203.pdf

This is a large step for ASHRAE; however, the document would have gone further to protect all workers and patrons from secondhand smoke exposure if it had not contained a statement that isolated and separately ventilated smoking rooms can control secondhand smoke exposure in nonsmoking areas.

Write ASHRAE to thank its Board of Directors for unanimously rejecting Big Tobacco's interests by adopting this position document. Encourage them to go one step further in safeguarding public health by removing the statement about smoking rooms. You may direct your letters to:

ASHRAE Board of Directors
c/o Gloria Cofer
ASHRAE Headquarters
1791 Tullie Circle
Atlanta, GA 30329

The ASHRAE position on secondhand smoke was cited in the 2006 U.S. Surgeon General's Report.

Additionally, after the ASHRAE Board of Directors encouraged its members to vote against a petition being circulated by the American Gaming Association and the National Restaurant Association to create a separate ventilation standard for hospitality venues, members overwhelmingly voted against the petition, determining that ventilation rates for restaurants, bars, and other hospitality venues are already specified by Standard 62.1, which applies to 100% smokefree areas only.

This marks another victory for public health. The American Gaming Association and the tobacco companies had lobbied ASHRAE to create a separate standard for years. In voting the petition down, ASHRAE's members are reinforcing their commitment to protect health.