Leading to fire hazards, passenger complaints and low on-board air quality, smoking has long been a contentious issue on cruise ships. Karl-Johan Lantz, executive vice-president at QleanAir Scandinavia, explains how the latest air filter technology and ashtrays can eliminate the health and safety risks, and bring passengers from both sides of the smoking divide together.

Can you please tell us about your company?

Karl-Johan Lantz: For more than 25 years, we have helped companies provide a clean indoor air environment. Our SmokeFree Systems air filter design and technology began by solving the problems associated with passive smoking. Air quality in the surrounding environments improved, and interaction between smokers and non-smokers increased. Staff members noticed as well, which boosted moral and productivity.

Today, this high-tech filter technology is known as QleanAir Scandinavia. We are industry leaders in providing practical clean-air solutions that meet government standards. Our units are designed to handle the most difficult of all air pollutants: tobacco smoke. Working with adjustable airspeeds, high-efficiency particulate absorption and gas filters, sealed to avoid any leakage, our service record is envied. We operate in Asia, Europe, the Middle-East and the US.

How much of an issue is on-board smoking for today’s cruise operators?

For most cruise lines, smoking is an ever-present issue. Normally, more than 40% of the staff and about 30% of passengers smoke. On the one hand, banning smoking totally will create problems attracting staff – as well as the risk of losing passengers. On the other hand, poor solutions will create poor air quality, increase the risk of fire and cause complaints from non-smokers.

What sort of strategies have cruise lines adopted to deal with these issues?

Most cruise lines have been working hard to cut the negative consequences of on-board smoking; minimising the areas where smoking is allowed, and even banning smoking in cabins and on balconies. Smoking is normally only allowed in smoking lounges, the casinos and, for crew, in a smoking room or at the crew bar.

These actions have made the problem smaller, but have not eliminated it. The fire risk is still present, as is the exposure to second-hand smoke in and around the casinos and smoking rooms, as well as around smoking areas on the outdoor deck. And, there is the problem with emptying and cleaning ashtrays.

How can cruise lines deal more effectively with the challenges brought by smoking?

The answer to these problems is to create well-defined areas where smoking is allowed, and to have a good solution for capturing and cleaning the air from all hazardous gases and particles. This lets smokers and non-smokers socialise and enjoy all areas of the ship, without being exposed to second-hand smoke. It also minimises the risk of fires caused by smoking, and gets rid of dirty, unhealthy and odorous ashtrays.

How do your smoking solutions differ from the competition?

Firstly, we take care of 100% of both particles and gases; removing all dangerous compounds from the air. Secondly, we only work with mechanical filtration, which improves the longer it is used. Thirdly, we have a patented method for dealing with the cigarette ends in a fireproof and odour-free way.

What experience do you have of working with the cruise industry?

Our main products for the cruise industry are our aircleaners, AirQlean High and AirQlean Low, along with our QleanUp ashtrays. We also have a wide range of fully equipped freestanding smoking cabins and rooms.

We offer all cruise lines the possibility to, without any costs, have an air quality check on board their ships, where we measure the amount of gases and particles in and around smoking areas and compare them with reference values on board as well as outside. The only thing we ask for is the possibility to combine the test report with our suggestions of how to handle the on-board situation.

Do you use your technology for any non-smoke related air-filter solutions?

Cleaning the environment from tobacco smoke is our main business, but we also provide solutions for complete cleanroom, as well as the elimination of dust and odours. It is all done with the same basic technique.

Do you have any interesting projects on the horizon?

At the Miami Seatrade event, we will launch two new units; one highly efficient and well-designed unit and one specially designed ashtray, made with a particular focus on casino environments.