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Airbnbs that allow smoking less likely to have smoke detectors, Johns Hopkins study finds

Fewer than half of Airbnb listings that allow short-term renters to smoke on the premises actually have smoke detectors installed, the Johns Hopkins study found. (iStock/Getty Images Plus)

The likelihood your Airbnb rental has a smoke detector might depend on whether smoking is allowed in the venue, according to a new study from Johns Hopkins University.

But the results may surprise you. It’s actually Airbnb listings that allow smoking that are far less likely to have smoke detectors installed, the study found.

Fewer than half of Airbnb listings that allow short-term renters to smoke on the premises — 46 percent — actually have smoke detectors installed, the study found. Sixty-four percent of rentals that do not allow smoking are equipped with smoke detectors.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health examined hundreds of thousands of rentals in 43 cities and 17 countries around the world. The study was published online Feb. 22 in the journal Preventive Medicine.

“The safety of our community is our priority,” Airbnb responded in a statement. “We’ve made a number of recent advancements to our fire, smoke and carbon monoxide detection programs to help keep our hosts, guests, and all communities across the globe, safe — whether they are on Airbnb or not. Since 2014, we’ve provided free CO and smoke detectors to hosts across the globe. We also recently announced a $1 million partnership to support the American Red Cross’ ‘Sound the Alarm’ campaign, which installs free smoke alarms and helps families create escape plans in at-risk communities across the United States.”

Researchers say the results are concerning because cigarettes are “consistently reported as a leading cause of residential fire deaths,” said Vanya Jones, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins, in a statement. “Given that smoke detectors are an effective way to drastically reduce the number of fire deaths, it is concerning that venues that allow smoking would be less likely to be equipped with smoke detectors.”

Overall, only about 9 percent of Airbnb venues surveyed in the study allow smoking, although rates vary greatly in different countries — from 3 percent in Denmark to 40 percent in Greece.

The lowest prevalence of smoke detectors was in listings in Italy, where only 2 percent of venues had them installed. The highest was in Scotland, where 83 percent of listings had smoke detectors.

The study also found carbon monoxide detectors were installed in only 19 percent venues that allowed smoking compared with 33 percent of nonsmoking rentals.

A similar study from out of Johns Hopkins last year found more than 20 percent of Airbnb rentals in D.C. might not have smoke detectors.

WTOP’s Kristi King contributed to this report. 

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