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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Members of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) were deeply involved in the problems of indoor air quality (IAQ) and therefore workplace smoking laws. However they realised that while smoking restrictions could reduce the costs of maintaining their offices and air-conditioning systems, any laws which were establishing standards for indoor air quality could cost them money both in maintenance and operating costs. They were therefore vitally interested in HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) and ACVA (an alternate name = Air Conditioning and Ventilation Access) systems, and easily convinced (in the early days) by the denial operations of Gray Robertson and his Healthy Buildings International (HBI) operations.

BOMA mainly operates in the US at a state level, but it also lobbied Congress at the national level, and had some international chapters. [1]

Their main interest was financial. Especially where the climate was colder or hotter than average, the amount of air which needed to exchanged between the interior and the exterior (the ventilation rate) accounted for a substantial part of the cost of operating a large office block or factory. And after the Arab oil-crisis in the 1970s when heating-oil prices rose rapidly, BOMA members faced considerable cost escalations, and many of them saw value in an alliance with the tobacco industry in fighting against more restrictive IAQ regulations.

Since BOMA members dealt with tenants of offices and factories, they were most concerned with the regulatory impact of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) over environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). The exaggeration of the threat of Legionnairre's Disease as part of the [[sick building syndrome] ploy of the cigarette companies, may also have played a big part in their decisions. Legionella was a direct legal liability threat.

After it became apparent that the industry's denial of smoke's contribution to IAQ problems was no longer being believed, the tobacco industry sought answers to their problems by promoting "Accommodation programs" accompanied by "Courtesy of Choice" propaganda. This ploy essentially required that both smoking and non-smoking areas be provided in most office and public buildings [2] at a high cost to building owners.

Attitudes to Smoking

1988: BOMA was being seen as a potential tobacco ally in fighting anti-smoking ordinances. [3]

1989: A tobacco report on BOMA's representation to a senate inquiry into IAQ says that: [4]

Alan Bisk said BOMA supports [the Bill] but cautioned against assuming that many buildings are sick. He noted that in many sick building situations, the cause can be traced not to the building itself but to a specific source (including ETS). His written testimony noted that smoking bans are often a solution to indoor air quality complaints.

1991: BOMA, probably unwittingly, sold its mailing list to Gray Robertson for use in mailing the tobacco-industry-funded HBI Magazine. The HBI Magazine was, at this time, one of the main promoters of sick-building syndrome, and a denier of smoking's primary contribution.

1993: The federal, and some state chapters of BOMA, began to support a federal ban on smoking in the workplace. [5] [6]


BOMA was founded in 1908 by: [7]

owners, managers, investors and developers of commercial office buildings to promote the office building industry as a business enterprise. BOMA is a mostly non-political organization primarily concerned with technical standards and accounting methods applicable to office buildings and their operation, and related regulatory matters.

The organisation was seen as a key member of the many committees dealing with Indoor Air Quality, and its importance was recognised by the Building Research Board and the National Academy of Sciences. BOMA had chapters in each state. [8]


  • BOMA was aligned, and shared seminars and conferences with other building/management associations:
IFMA - International Faculties Management Association <>
IBD - [Integrated Building Design ??]
AIA - American Institute of Architects <>
BIFMA - Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association <>
ASID - American Society of Interior Designers <>
  • BOMA also had close associations with construction organisations, general management and executive organisations also.
  • BOMA was aligned with the travel and leisure industries
Various airlines
HoReCa - Hotels, Restaurants and Casinos (an organisation closely aligned to the tobacco industry)
NRA - (here not the rifle assn.) National Restaurant Association.
IHA - International Hotel Association.
  • BOMA had direct input into ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) which set the US indoor-outdoor exchange standards (which were widely copied around the world.)
  • BOMA joined forces with energy-lobbying organisations like the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) which had a dubious reputation in the way it applied its political muscle.

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