Les Gets: French ski resort becomes the first in Europe to ban smoking | Popgen Tech
(CNN) — A red and white prohibition sign atop a black burning cigarette — the universal no-smoking symbol — will be the new addition this month to ski enthusiasts from around the world in the small town of Les Gets in the French Alps welcomed.
“It’s been years since we started handing out free bag ashtrays and nothing has changed [about] how many cigarette butts we would get at the end of the ski season,” said Benjamin Mugnier, marketing director at the Les Gets ski resort.
“Last spring we had a clean-up day with 100 volunteers and after going through the mountain we found 3,000 cigarette butts.”
Mugnier added that he’s sure there’s more they haven’t found yet.
It was then that he decided to propose a smoking ban.
Municipal police will patrol the pistes, and those caught lighting up can be fined.
Non-smoking ski resorts are already operating 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 only 12.5% in the US.
Mugnier said the decision to go cigarette-free was difficult but necessary.
And the rule doesn’t just apply to skiers and snowboarders. Located in eastern France near the Swiss border, Les Gets has an active season all year round, with hiking, rock climbing and camping all on offer.
It also hosted the 2022 Mountain Bike World Championship.
While snow could hide the piles of cigarette butts for part of the year, it caused unsightly surprises when the snowmelt began in the spring.
However, Les Gets does not implement a total smoking ban. The resort has set up five designated smoking zones at the top of their lifts for those who crave the taste of tobacco during their ski breaks.
All the cigarette butts collected at these areas will be recycled for energy use, the resort said in a press release.
But by being the first to try this smokeless approach, Les Gets hopes it can start a new trend in hospitality while also caring for the Earth.
Although there was concern that some visitors would cancel their reservations or not be able to return next year because of the smoking ban, Mugnier said that was not a problem.
When the resort informed their first round of incoming guests about this new ban, the overwhelming majority expressed support — even the smokers were in favor of the ban.
“There are some who said: ‘We will not come skiing with you,’ but they were not the ones who made a reservation with us,” said Mugnier.
Top image: Fresh snow at Les Gets. Photo courtesy Les Gets Ski Resort.