Tokyo hotel's smoking ban is popular


TOKYO -- Guests at a new hotel in Tokyo that bans smoking have reacted favorably to the rule, according to a hotel official.

Smoking is prohibited throughout the 120-room Tokyo Kiba Hotel, which opened March 16. Two Japanese hotel associations said it is the first hotel in the country that bans smoking throughout the premises.

General manager Yasutaka Yamada proposed the no-smoking rule before the hotel was built, but had to convince other hotel executives that the idea would be a moneymaker.

Mr. Yamada told them that a hotel that bans smoking would attract guests because it would be trendy.

"I'm most afraid of fire caused by smoking in bed," said Mr. Yamada, who doesn't smoke. "Also, I hoped customers would be able to stay at a comfortable, clean and secure hotel, where there is no smell of nicotine."

He said he did not like the lingering smell of nicotine at another hotel he runs near Tokyo's Ginza shopping and entertainment district.

Guests who violate the no-smoking rule have a 10,000 yen ($75) fine added to their bill. So far, two guests have been fined, Mr. Yamada said.

He said most guests, and particularly women, are happy with the hotel's no-smoking policy. One person, however, decided not to stay at the hotel after learning of the policy, he said.

Some heavy smokers deposit their cigarettes at the front desk when checking in, according to a hotel spokesman. The hotel provides guests who ask for them with devices aimed at helping them kick the smoking habit, such as special pipes.

A number of other Tokyo hotels have banned smoking on certain floors or rooms.

Last September the Hotel New Otani banned smoking in all 129 rooms on the seventh and eighth floors of its main building. The hotel first banned smoking in 61 rooms 12 years ago, but found little demand for them, according to a hotel spokesman.

"Now, reservations for the non-smoking rooms are filled," he said.

The Imperial Hotel's 25 non-smoking rooms are particularly popular among foreign guests, according to a spokesman.

"These rooms are constantly filled," he said. "Many of the guests are foreigners who are sensitive about the smell of nicotine."

The move by hotels is applauded by such anti-smoking activists as Takashi Shiraishi.

"It's good for security and health," said Mr. Shiraishi, who heads the Japan Temperance Association. "For those who cannot give up smoking, an increase in non-smoking places will help them change their smoking habit."

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