Starting this winter, on December 17, the ski area of the Les Gets resort became tobacco-free, a first in Europe.
In real terms, this means that smoking will be prohibited in the entire communal ski area, both on the ski lifts and on the slopes. Only five smoking areas will be set up for those who still wish to take a “cigarette break”.
A clear finding: between pollution and passive smoking
“We want to showcase our number one asset which is the clean air of the mountain, which is why thousands of visitors visit us every year,” said Benjamin Mugnier, who is in charge of the project.
More than 3,000 cigarette butts are collected annually on the Les Gets ski area, each representing 150 substances that are toxic to the environment, nearly 4,000 pollutants (mercury, lead, arsenic, DDT, butane, ammonia…), up to 300 litres of polluted water or 1m3 of snow (equivalent to three bathtubs) and 10 to 15 years taken to break down.
For several years, the resort had been distributing free pocket ashtrays. However, there was a desire to take the approach further in order to drastically reduce this source of significant environmental pollution.
Beyond the environmental aspect, health is also at the heart of the concerns. Indeed, passive smoking is a significant phenomenon on ski lifts, with some skiers occasionally smoking on the same seat as other non-smokers or in queues, sometimes alongside children.
5 smoking areas
Smoking areas will be set up on the ski area to allow those who wish to do so to have a “cigarette break”. Located at the top of the ski lifts, they will be marked by banners and equipped with “survey” type ashtrays, made from recycled skis by the cooperative company Skitec. The cigarette butts gathered in the various smoking areas will be collected and recycled into energy, all in partnership with the association Tree6clope.
Employee support programme
In line with this comprehensive approach, Sagets (company operating the Les Gets ski and leisure area) has set up a “tobacco way out” programme for its employees. During the employee welcome days, awareness-raising has been put in place in partnership with occupational health, and the company has undertaken to support volunteers who wish to quit smoking, by financing the remainder of the treatment.
A first in Europe
Although tobacco-free ski areas have already existed for several years in North America, Japan and New Zealand, the Les Gets approach is a first in Europe. With this initiative, the resort is consolidating its status as progressive, at the forefront of societal issues.
The Mountain Riders association is supporting the resort in the “Tobacco-free Ski Area” approach. Supporters also include the League Against Cancer through the “Spaces without Tobacco” scheme and Alcome, the eco-organisation for the reduction of cigarette butts in public spaces.
The “Tobacco-free Ski Area” initiative is part of the wider “Les Gets, territory without cigarette butts”, the initiative of the municipality of Les Gets to fight pollution related to cigarette butts thrown on the ground.
LES GETS, TERRITORY WITHOUT CIGARETTE BUTTS
In association with the ski area, the commune of Les Gets is fighting against pollution related to cigarette butts thrown on the ground in the resort.
Every year during the “clean mountain” citizen’s day, the presence of cigarette butts remains inescapable among the waste collected by volunteers. In 2022, more than 3000 butts were collected on the ski area and in the village, on just that one day. Approximately 25,000 tonnes end up in the wild every year in France.
Each cigarette butt collected is a butt that is not thrown to the ground.
Starting this winter, the cigarette butts deposited in the ashtrays of the rubbish bins of the village of Les Gets, as well as in the “survey” ashtrays distributed over the commune at 5 strategic points, will be collected by technical services, then stored at the Municipal Technical Center while they wait to be recovered at the end of the season by the environmental protection association Tree6clope , a registered charity. The butts will then be transported and recycled at a local UVE (Energy Recovery Unit).
Everyone can act as they are able to.
Seventy-five per cent of cigarette butts are collected from businesses (bars, restaurants, snack-bars, hotels, shops…). This is why the commune of Les Gets is encouraging the local businesses to join the Tree6clope association, which acts on a daily basis to create an area with no cigarette butts on the ground. The goal is for each establishment to store the cigarette butts in a container provided to them, before they are collected at the end of each season by the association. The latter is also in charge of producing a map of the members at the resort which will be posted on the website of the town hall to promote this approach to the public, as well as a certificate of collection and a communications kit to display the commitment of the businesses.
>> Les Gets Town Hall Information