ASHRAE ETS Position Document: Engineers Should Follow Local Codes in
Regard to Smoking
Release Date: 08/05/2005
Contact: Jodi Dunlop
ATLANTA – What do engineers need to know to balance the health impacts of smoking with
the desires of building owners and with local laws and regulations?
According to a new position document from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and
Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), engineers should abide by local regulations and codes
addressing environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). The Society also believes that designers should
educate their clients of the substantial limitations and available benefits of engineering controls.
ASHRAE’s Environmental Tobacco Smoke Position Document provides information on the
health consequences of exposure of nonsmokers to tobacco smoke in indoor environments, and
on the implications of this knowledge for the design, installation and operation of HVAC
While ASHRAE realizes that elimination of indoor smoking is the best way to minimize ETS
exposure, the Society also recognizes that much of the population is exposed to ETS in
workplaces, homes and public places.
As such, the Society recommends that engineers work with clients to address ETS exposure.
Engineers should take into account all laws and regulations in regard to indoor smoking and
develop a strategy that will result in the lowest ETS exposure to building occupants within the
context of building use.
The document outlines four design and operation approaches to addressing ETS exposure in
• Banning smoking indoors
• Smoking allowed only in isolated rooms
• Smoking allowed in separate but not isolated spaces
• Mixed occupancy of smokers and nonsmokers.
The document also contains information on characteristics and concentrations of ETS in indoor
spaces, health effects of involuntary smoking, and considerations related to HVAC system
design and operation.
Among the findings by ASHRAE in the document are:
• It is the consensus of the medical community and its cognizant authorities that ETS is a
health risk, causing lung cancer and heart disease in adults, and exacerbation of asthma,
lower respiratory illnesses, and other adverse effects on the respiratory health of children.
• Currently, the only way to effectively eliminate health risk associated with indoor
exposure is to ban smoking activity.
• Although complete separation and isolation of smoking rooms can control ETS exposure
in non-smoking spaces in the same building, adverse health effects for the occupants of
the smoking room cannot be controlled by ventilation.
• No other engineering approaches, including current and advanced dilution ventilation or
air-cleaning technologies, have been demonstrated or should be relied on to control
health risks from ETS exposure in spaces where smoking occurs. Some engineering
measures may reduce that exposure and the corresponding risk to some degree while also
addressing to some extent the comfort issues of odor and some forms of irritation.
• An increasing number of local and national governments, as well as many private
building owners, are implementing bans on indoor smoking.
• Because of ASHRAE’s mission to act for the benefit of the public, it encourages
elimination of smoking in the indoor environment as the optimal way to minimize ETS
To obtain a free copy of ASHRAE’s Environmental Tobacco Smoke Position Document, visit
“position documents” under the shortcut on ASHRAE.org.
ASHRAE, founded in 1894, is an international organization of 55,000 persons. Its sole objective
is to advance through research, standards writing, publishing and continuing education the arts
and sciences of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration to serve the evolving
needs of the public.