The Smoke-Free Air law of 2010 banned smoking inside of workplaces, bars, restaurants, and hotels. However, it is legal to smoke on outdoor patios and balconies. One local hotel has made renting a room more convenient for smokers. Howard Johnson in Grand Rapids accommodates cigarette and medical marijuana smokers.
The hotel located at 255 28th Street SW, is independently owned and operated. Of the 155 rooms, nearly half are designated smoking rooms. For a premium, guests can request a smoking room and will have the option to smoke immediately outside of their room in complete privacy.
Each designated smoking room has a sliding glass door that leads to a small outdoor patio with a tall fence or a covered balcony with a privacy wall. Smokers will no longer have to stand outside the hotel entrance to smoke.
The addition of the designated smoking rooms has provided this local Howard Johnson with a competing edge over other downtown hotels. Since the hotel began advertising the availability of smoking rooms on a marquee, its weekend occupancy has gone up 50%.
The smoking rooms have attracted guests from other states where marijuana has been legalized. In 2008, Michigan legalized medical marijuana. There are 19 other states that have legalized marijuana, along with Washington D.C.
With a growing number of legal marijuana smokers in the United States, this local hotel may have developed the beginning of a new niche in the hotel and tourism market.