LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida – The Walt Disney Co. is banning smoking at all of its 22 hotels and time-share resorts, effective June 1.
The ban permits smoking at designated outdoor areas.
Disney, however, is simply responding to increasing demand from guests for nonsmoking hotel rooms, the theme park's spokesman Jacob DiPietre said Wednesday.
The ban follows a 2000 measure that restricted smoking throughout Disney's theme and water parks, limiting smoking to designated areas, he said.
DiPietre could not provide figures tracking the decline in requests for smoking rooms, but said it has been "significant."
Less than 4 percent of Disney's more than 24,000 hotel rooms are currently smoking optional, he said.
Guests caught smoking after the ban could face cleaning surcharges as high as $500.
If Disney does not have the demand for smoking rooms, then the theme park should reduce the number of smoking rooms available, not ban them, said Gary Nolan, U.S. regional director of The Smoker's Club, a smoker's rights group.
"Disney is going to send money elsewhere," Nolan said.
Some hotels located on Disney property are not owned by the theme park and will still offer smoking rooms.
Kath Petchey, a cigarette smoker for 32 years from England, lit up freely as she walked with her husband along Downtown Disney's shopping district Wednesday.
"Disney is being a bit of a drama queen," Petchey said.