Big Smoke at the Marriott Marquis

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Even though Marriott last year announced that it was going 100 percent smoke-free, the Marriott Marquis in New York will be hosting something called the Big Smoke, a gathering of cigar aficionados that will donate a portion of the proceeds to something called Prostate Cancer Research. According to the Cigar Aficionado Web site, the meeting will be "in compliance with NYS guidelines," but I'm curious how Marriott will be handling it to be in accordance with its smoke-free mandate, since cigars are definitely on the menu.

I heard about this from John Banzhaf, Executive Director of Action on Smoking and Health, an anti-smoking group, who sends around e-mails about this sort of thing. The e-mail said:

    "Once announced and unless withdrawn, companies must adhere to promises made to customers," says Banzhaf, noting that McDonald's was recently forced to pay $8 million when it reneged on its publicly-announced promise to remove trans fat from the foods it served. In addition to tarnishing its image, Marriott should be concerned about its legal liability if it subjects its employees and the majority of its guests to acrid cigar smoke in its supposedly "100 Percent Smoke-Free" hotel, he says.

I haven't talked with either Cigar Aficionado or the Marriott Marquis, so I'm not sure what sort of arrangement they made, but I'd be curious to find out.

Update: I've spoken with both Banzhaf and a Marriott rep since posting this. The resulting article is here.

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