by Xiaofei Xu
A red and white sign atop a lit black cigarette – the global symbol of no smoking – will be the new addition that will welcome ski enthusiasts from all over the world to the small village of Les Gets in the French Alps this month.
December 17, skating rinks Why is this happening? Opening its doors for the snow season, it also became the first ski resort in Europe to ban smoking in its entire common area, or to quote its new campaign slogan: “Les Gets, a smoke-free zone”.
“It’s been years since we started handing out free pocket ashtrays and nothing has changed [about] “How many cigarette butts will we find at the end of the ski season,” said Benjamin Meugnier, marketing director of the Les Gets ski resort.
“We had a clean-up day last spring with 100 volunteers and after crossing the mountain we found 3,000 cigarette butts.”
Mugnier added that he is sure they still have to find.
It was then that he decided to propose a smoking ban.
City police will patrol the lanes and those caught in the act can be fined.
Smoke-free ski resorts already exist in other parts of the world, such as Japan, New Zealand, and Canada. But Les Gets is entering new territory.
About 32% of French adults between the ages of 18 and 75 identify as smokers, according to the latest data published by the French Ministry of Health, compared to just 12.5% in the United States.
Mugnier said the decision to stay away from cigarettes was difficult but necessary.
And the rule applies not only to skiers and snowboarders. Les Gets is located in eastern France, near the Swiss border, and has an active season all year round, with hiking, climbing, and camping.
It also hosted the 2022 Mountain Bike World Championships.
While snow can hide piles of cigarette butts for part of the year, it creates unpleasant surprises at the onset of the spring thaw.
However, Les Gets does not have an outright smoking ban. The resort has set up five designated smoking areas at the top of the lifts for those who wish to snack on tobacco during their ski trips.
The station said in a press release that all cigarette butts collected from these areas will be recycled for energy purposes.
But by being the first to try this smoke-free approach, Les Gets hopes to start a new trend in hospitality with a concern for the earth.
Although there have been concerns that some visitors may cancel their reservations or not return next year due to the smoking ban, Mugnier said this is not a problem.
When the station informed the first group of customers coming in about this new ban, the vast majority expressed their support – even smokers were in favor of the ban.
“Some people said, ‘We’re not going to come skiing with you,’” Mugnier says, “but they weren’t the ones who booked us.”
Top photo: fresh snow at Les Gets. Photo provided by Les Gets Ski Resort.
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