The American Society for Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineering (ASHRAE) is the organization that develops engineering standards for building ventilation systems. ASHRAE now bases its ventilation standard for acceptable indoor air quality on an environment that is completely free from secondhand tobacco smoke, secondhand marijuana smoke, and emissions from electronic smoking devices.
CITATION: ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2013, Addenda 2015 - Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality. ta, GA: American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. Atlanta, GA: American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. Library/docLib/StdsAddenda/62_1_2013_2015Supplement_20150203.pdf

ASHRAE's 2010 position document on environmental tobacco smoke was reaffirmed on June 25, 2013.
The new expiration date is June 25, 2016.

"Air Filtration"? That's Just Tobacco Companies Blowing Smoke Again

Don't be fooled! No ventilation system has ever been designed that can protect the public from the death and disease caused by exposure to secondhand smoke.

In July 2006, U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona declared that the debate is over about the science of secondhand smoke, concluding that separating smokers from nonsmokers, air cleaning technologies, and ventilating buildings cannot eliminate secondhand smoke exposure, stating that conventional air cleaning systems cannot remove all the poisons, toxins, gases, and particles found in secondhand smoke. Additionally, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems can distribute secondhand smoke throughout a building. Read the full, landmark 2006 Surgeon General's Report, "The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke."

The 2006 Surgeon General's Report reaffirms what the engineering community has been saying:

  • ASHRAE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers is the international standard setting body that sets the standard for indoor air quality. This standard can then be adopted into state and local building codes. At its Summer 2005 Conference, the ASHRAE Board of Directors unanimously adopted a position document on secondhand smoke, which states that ventilation cannot eliminate the health dangers posed by secondhand smoke and that smoking does not belong indoors.

  • Numerous ventilation and air filtration companies post health disclaimers, stating that their products cannot control for secondhand smoke. Learn what the ventilation companies are saying.

Why doesn't ventilation work? Secondhand smoke has what scientists call a non-linear dose response. Therefore, while a ventilation or air filtration system (a.k.a. air purifiers or air cleaners) may be successful in reducing the level of visible smoke in the air, this reduction doesn't eliminate hazardous toxins and gases found in secondhand smoke.

ANR, its members, and all nonsmokers achieved a significant victory in the Spring of 2004 by beginning to clean up misleading advertising in the air filtration industry. As with a ventilation system in a restaurant or business, no personal air filtration system can protect people from the health hazards of secondhand smoke. Many air filtration systems include misleading statements in their marketing that could easily lead the public to believe that these systems eliminate or reduce the health risks associated with tobacco smoke. In reality, no air filtration system has been created that can protect against the health dangers of secondhand smoke. We are happy to announce that several companies, after becoming educated by ANR on the health concerns of secondhand smoke, have proactively and voluntarily agreed to modify their advertising to include an explicit disclaimer. We congratulate those companies that have demonstrated leadership by making clear to consumers that these systems do not protect people from tobacco smoke. If you know of companies making similar claims regarding tobacco smoke, please contact ANR at (510) 841-3032 or by email.