Innkeeper Lyndon Sanders Has a Warning for a Welcome: All Smoking Abandon, Ye Who Enter Here

updated 05/09/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/09/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

He may not follow you around with a fire extinguisher, but you'd better not check into Lyndon Sanders' motel in Dallas if you have a hankering for the devil weed. Not marijuana. Tobacco. Sanders, a militant antismoker, has declared every one of the 134 rooms of his Non-Smokers Inn off limits to those who light up. "We don't even say please," says the blunt-talking 54-year-old auctioneer and builder. His inn, located in an industrial district on Highway 183 near the Cowboys' Texas Stadium, has been open just over a year and averages a 70 percent occupancy rate.

As far as Sanders knows, it's the first such hostelry set aside for nonsmokers, whom he views as a growing consumer class. There is no dining room, and the bare-bones accommodations fall into the economy class—$32 for a single, $38 for a double.

Sanders is quick to point out that his motives are more than merely monetary. He believes smoking contributed to his father's death of heart failure, and a dozen close friends have died of cigarette-related diseases. An owner of hotels for 11 years, Sanders first experimented with the idea of prohibition by declaring a few rooms at an inn he also owns in Albuquerque smoker-free. Non-smoker response encouraged him to go all-out in Dallas.

That's pretty evident in the evangelical aura that pervades the premises. An eight-by-20-foot "reader board" out by the freeway reminds passing motorists of the hazards of smoking. Receptionists answer the phone with "It's a healthy day at Non-Smokers Inn." Employee T-shirts on opening day threatened: "Don't even think about smoking on these premises." Even now employees wear tags with such slogans as "Kissing someone who smokes is like licking a dirty old ashtray." To make sure the employees mean it, Sanders makes them undergo polygraph tests to prove they don't smoke.

Guests are not treated quite that severely, although Sanders requires that they sign a pledge not to smoke or allow smoking in their rooms. The penalty for puffing? A $100 fine and eviction. "But I'm not here to collect that $100," he says. "We just want the smoker to feel out of place."

He's dead set on that. So, if you're driving 183 through Dallas and feel the need for a room for the night, consider what should be Sanders' motto: L.S.M.F.T.—"Lyndon Sanders Means Forget Tobacco."

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