No Smoking? No Problem for HVAC Design

Following in the footsteps of California, Florida and New York City, Chicago might just be the next major jurisdiction to adopt a non-smoking policy.

By Consulting Specifying Engineer Staff January 21, 2003

Following in the footsteps of California, Florida and New York City, Chicago might just be the next major

In December, Chicago City Council members met to address two proposed ordinances to ban smoking in the city’s restaurants and bars. Alderman Ed Smith proposed that smoking should be prohibited in restaurants and in bars that sell more food than alcohol. Alderman Edward Burke went one step further in his proposal, which would ban smoking in all public places, as well as in stand-alone bars, golf courses and city-owned vehicles.

As with all issues that come before the Chicago City Council, there were passionate arguments from both sides. Supporters of a smoking ban, including many restaurant workers, feel that people have a right to breathe clean air. On the other side of the debate, opponents of a ban were given the opportunity to present their arguments to the City Council’s Health Committee in January. These include many restaurant owners and managers who say that banning smoking would drive away their smoking customers.

But Smith, who is the chairman of the Health Committee, said that the January meeting yielded no new arguments from opponents of a potential ban. “There was nothing said in the hearing today that we had not heard all along,” he said, according to the Chicago Tribune .

Would a smoking ban affect HVAC design? According to Dan Murphy, Sr. Vice President of ESD Construction, Inc., Chicago, the answer is no.

“The whole issue of smoking in enclosed spaces is something that is known up front and is exposed to the engineer. Once that’s known, the engineer can go to the appropriate reference—the ASHRAE standards, for instance—and design a system to mitigate the effect of the smoke,” he says.

“If there’s a smoking ban, all it means is that certain equipment doesn’t get designed and installed. Does it hurt the engineering business? No, not really. The engineering fees associated with something like that are miniscule.”

The Health Committee has yet to choose which ordinance it would consider if any at all.

Editor’s note: See the upcoming January issue of CSE for an update on ASHRAE’s take on a separate indoor air quality standard for the restaurant and hospitality industry.