Ventilation Does Not Protect Nonsmokers

Don’t Buy the Ventilation Lie!

It may seem surprising that ventilation systems would be a threat to smokefree air, but that’s exactly what they are with Big Tobacco.  The tobacco industry has a long history of promoting ventilation/smoking room schemes to policymakers, hospitality businesses, and airports as alternatives to smokefree air laws and policies.  Make no mistake: this tactic has allowed tobacco companies to protect their bottom lines at the cost of nonsmokers’ health.

The fact is, there is NO safe level of secondhand smoke exposure. Even brief periods or low levels of secondhand smoke exposure still result in significant health risks, including immediate impact to the cardiovascular system.  The science is clear that ventilations systems, smoking rooms, and smoking sections do not address the health hazards of secondhand smoke. The only known way to reduce the risks associated with secondhand smoke is with a 100% smokefree environment.

The American Society for Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineering (ASHRAE) is the organization that develops engineering standards for building ventilation systems.

ASHRAE 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.  

The 2015 Supplement Addendum to ASHRAE’s Standard 62.1-2016, Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality states:

“Since the current language relating to ETS was added to the standard, electronic smoking devices (commonly called ‘e-cigarettes’) have come on the market and are increasingly popular. Also, some jurisdictions have legalized the smoking of cannabis.

This addendum revises the current definition of ETS to include emissions from electronic smoking devices and from smoking of cannabis. The existing requirements for separation of ETS-free spaces from ETS spaces remain unchanged.”

The “ASHRAE Position Document on Indoor Air Quality,” was originally approved on October 22, 2010. The position document was renewed on June 28, 2023 and will expire June 28, 2026.

According to this position statement:

“ASHRAE holds the position that the only means of avoiding health effects and eliminating indoor ETS exposure is to ban all smoking activity inside and near buildings.”


Get more facts on why and how ventilation systems fail to protect the public health from secondhand smoke!


What Air Filtration Companies and the Tobacco Industry Are Saying


A history of how Big Tobacco has promoted ventilation as an alternative to smokefree air.