Ongoing issues with smokers

Hi All,
I have had 2 groups in the past few weeks who just would not use outside ashtrays provided, leaving cigarette butts on the front garden, the decking, and unburned in 2 chimeneas and a barbeque
My question is, if I ask immediately on booking if there are any smokers, and if so can the main guest confirm that they will not throw cigarette butts down everywhere, and they do not reply can I cancel their booking without repercussions? I have asked airbnb “help” but they skated around the issue entirely
I host a large house attracting groups of 12-16, sometimes larger, so if I even spot 1 end on the grass or decking I have no choice but to crawl around the whole place trying to find every last one. in case the next group has a toddler who might choke, shove one up their nose, or swallow it ending up in A and E with a nicotine rush.
I realise smokers don’t see them as litter and probably think they smell just fine too. The most recent group who did this were terrible in many other ways also, they left behind a top of the range mixing bowl which they asked me to send back, so I googled the address- an absolute mansion in Greater London, so this is absolutely not about vetting my guests better, this behaviour can be seen in all kinds of people

That’s not true at all. I’m a smoker and know plenty other people who are, too and none of us are like that. I would never throw a cigarette butt anywhere but in an ashtray and then the garbage. Neither would anyone else I know. And not in the inside household garbage, either, because they smell bad to me, too.

One of my smoking friends is so fastidious she butts out a cigarette in the ashtray, and immediately empties it into the outside garbage can and washes the ashtray. She does that for every cigarette she smokes.

I stayed at a hotel that had a smoking area outside and even though there was a big commercial ashtray there, the ground was littered with butts. I called the front desk and told them they needed to send a cleaner down there, it was disgusting. Which they did.

The issue isn’t that your guests are smokers, it’s that they are disrespectful and piggish. The butts are just the result of their disrespect, not part and parcel of them being smokers.

I’ve only had a few guests who were smokers and they have all smoked outside, as I do, and used the ashtray provided. But I only host one guest at a time in my home- part of your problem is your high guest count- a party atmosphere tends to make people behave in ways they might not otherwise.

Can you turn off Instant Book and only allow Booking Requests? Then you could send a message like you propose and if they don’t respond, just decline, instead of having to cancel.
I would have the message be very clear on the rules and expectations for smokers, that if they are not followed, they will be charged for extra cleaning time, tell them they need to respond within a few hours that they have read and agree to this, and that if you don’'t get a timely response, you will have to either decline or cancel the booking.

You might also send a pre-check out message, thanking them for booking with you, that you hope they had a nice time, and reminding them both of the check-out time and that if there were any smokers in their group to make sure that all butts are cleaned up and disposed of in the appropriate receptacles, so as not to incur extra cleaning charges.

And take dated before check-in and after check out photos.

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Thanks Muddy - yes, sorry I should have said “not all smokers see butts as litter”, I also know quite a few very fastidious smokers. It does amaze me though, when on the beach in our pretty seaside town, how many people just throw them on the sand or in the children’s park…a mystery
I might well stop using instant book, as you suggest. Our large groups tend to book way ahead of time as it takes some planning to make sure that everyone has the right time off work and as our booking is now well established there won’t ever be any need to accept last minute bookings

I wasn’t so much being defensive about smokers- I’ve seen plenty of people throw butts on the ground indiscriminately, and what’s really rude is when they butt them out in potted plants or toss them into the flower garden.

It was kinda the opposite- saying smokers don’t see them as litter sounds like being sort of understanding, when there’s no excuse for that behavior at all.
I’d bet their own yard of their mansion isn’t littered with butts.

Maybe you should post a photo in the outside smoking area of a child in the hospital, getting their stomach pumped from eating a cigarette butt carelessly tossed on the lawn.

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That would really enhance the jolly holiday atmosphere! But I am tempted…

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When I lived in Canada, the govt. put out some posters in the summer beach season on water safety that you would see around in public places. One had two side by side photos, the first of a toddler happily sitting on the sand near the water’s edge, playing with their pail and shovel. In the second, the pail and shovel were lying there, the sand all wet, and no toddler.

Images can be powerful and make people think twice. It must be 30 years since I saw that poster, but I still remember it clearly.

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Stopping IB will help because it let’s you drive home the No Smoking policy with messages before booking takes place.

However. Once the group is booked, I don’t think Air will let you cancel them without penalty for breaking one House Rule, even if your CCTVs record them smoking on the grounds. I assume you have CCTVs and tell the Guests they will be watched on the grounds.

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I would be really unhappy if there were cigarette ends all over the garden if staying with my daughter when she was 3…I have a friend in A and E who says they do periodically get toddlers coming in with cigarette end issues, typically during a family gathering when they are less likely to be watched attentively…just the sort of group I get, so I don’t think I’m being paranoid. Anyway, I think they look and smell vile

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No CCTV. I do allow them to smoke in the garden and decking, just not to throw the ends everywhere

I always do send stuff back, only about 1 group in 7 remembers everything, 2nd class post is still pretty cheap here. Fortunately I am only a minute’s walk from the post office.

Put it in your house rules that there is an extra cleaning fee (say $200-$300US) for cigarette butts found anywhere other than in approved receptacles. And post it in a prominent place in your house. You may not be able to collect on it, but it may slow down the disrespect.

You can be sure the person booking the property won’t tell everyone a house rule UNLESS there is a potential cost to them if it’s broken (and even then, it’s not guaranteed).


Okay, not interested in arguing. I’ll delete my comment.

Just a note that most of the ‘absolute mansions’ in Greater London are apartments, some of them tiny.

There does seem to be a lot of prejudice around about people smoking these days. (I am not a smoker). Something that has been mentioned here quite a few times is that if a host is having the same problem repeatedly then there is probably something that the host could do to stop the problem. Sorry though, I’ve never had a problem with smokers, (I too allow smoking outside) so I’m afraid I can’t help with that.

I’ve had a few cigarette and cigar butts over the years but not enough to be a problem. I hope that other members’ suggestions will work for you. :slight_smile:

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+1 to this. I have a price for using the ozone machine but also $100 fee if I have to pick up butts, because as OP says, you find one then you have to do a full perimeter check to look for more, doesn’t matter if I find no more, i still had to waste my time on it. I fully agree, it’s doubtful i’d actually be able to charge this but i’m hopeful the threat is enough to modify behaviour.


Well then I must just be unlucky because 90% of the time I have a smoker stay I find butts, despite leaving butt cans out. I would ban smokers if I could, between the high fire danger and the littering I am over it. Thankfully I have never had anyone light up indoors that I know of.

I think it is disrespectful of a smoker to light up ANYWHERE where another human can be exposed to it. So there is that.




That’s a good suggestion

Exactly! This is my main point…In fact these last 2 groups left 35+ each, but had it ended up only being 1 each time the forensic search would have been the same

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Some good suggestions there…thank you

you mean, from the planet, or just your airbnb? haha.
i don’t allow smokers, we have a farm, and we are in a high bushfire danger region. even in winter, when it’s more like scotland, we are still are hard NO to smoking. It’s gross, and the smell on the bedding is gross. We’ve had a few people who smoke, and they’ve been respectful in that they did it outside, and i’ve had a few groups who brought chewing tobacco OMG that stuff is vile, and illegal in Australia. In the future i’m going to charge a standard $30/per room ozone machine fee straight away if we detect tobacco smell anywhere. using the machine adds 1 hour to our cleaning schedule. I figure that’s cheap enough they will just pay it without a fight.


The potential effect on toddlers and children is a good one that a smoker might not have thought about, also the work needed if even one is found to scour the whole property.

Perhaps the rule might state something like:

Please dispose of all cigarette butts in the ashtrays because toddlers and children visit here and butts pose a hazard to them. If we see even one we then need to search the entire grounds to make sure there are no more.