When Will They Ban Smoking in the Alps?
It has been announced by a ski area in New Zealand that there will be a complete ban on smoking. The area is called the Remarkables and this is no minor ban. In order to promote healthy living the ski area has taken the step of a complete ban. This means the whole Mountain is smoke free, this includes bars, lift queues, the slopes, chairlifts and even carparks. The company that runs the ski field says that there will be no designated areas for smoking at all.
This is a big move, but will it ever reach the French ski resorts. I have to confess that in my younger years I was a smoker. This coincided with the early part of my ski career when I worked in the Alps. This was when smoking was still allowed in pubs bars and resturants. I have since given up smoking and I am pleased to say that it was one of the best things I have ever done.
During my time in the Alps at the beginning of the century as previously mentioned, I used to smoke. As this is an honest blog I will confess, with much embarrassment, to my smoking behaviour in ski resorts. The mild confession is that I smoked in the bars in the evening. But it really is shameful to admit that I smoked in other places too. I would smoke in lift queues, on lifts and sometimes in cable cars. I now don’t smoke, although I am not a non-smoking evangelist, I do now understand and sympathise with the non-smokers that were around me.
Back then I, naively, took the when in Rome attitude. It seemed that everyone in France smoked. I even convinced myself that the attitude in France was that where there was a sign saying No Smoking it meant smoke more. Even though my smoking was clearly misguided, I still had a respect for the environment I was in and never chucked a but from a lift or dropped one in the mountains, but that is a different issue.
So what is the future of smoking in France’s ski resorts. Will there ever be an outright ban in French ski resorts and where there are no-smoking signs in queues and on lifts, will it ever be enforced? It would be great if it was! As a decommissioned chimney myself I can see how it is an antisocial activity. Who wants to be in a beautiful mountain setting, sun on face, enjoying the view from a chair lift, when you suddenly hear, click, click, shortly followed by a waft of smoke in your face.
My guess is that we are long way from witnessing a ban in the French Alps as it has been in the Remarkables in New Zealand. I doubt we would ever see a resort wide ban as it still is a popular habit in the country. There has been a noticeable decrease in antisocial smoking in ski resorts since the smoking ban was made Law. I am not suggesting that British people don’t smoke, but we are less culturally linked to modern smoking like the French appear to be. Although let us be honest it is much better to be a non-smoker in France than in an Austrian or Swiss ski resort. In Austria, smoking is allowed in pub and bars all the time. And in many Swiss night clubs, smoking is banned until 10 pm when smoking is allowed inside as they prefer cancer caused by passive smoking to noise pollution.
It could be argued that smoking is part of the romance of a holiday in France, the image of the ski instructor with a glass of wine and pack of Gauloises is still an associated part of the zeitgeist of ski lessons, true or not. We also still imagine that all French butchers are stood around with an apron caked in blood and a cigarette hanging from their bottom lip while the ash slowly burning slowly builds up. And it is hard to imagine a coffee shop in France without an army of smokers enjoying an espresso and a Marlborough. I am sure this isn’t a very good argument for smoking and is more of a digression than an impassioned plea for it to remain.
I would like to see a better plan for the stamping out of smoking in French ski resorts and I am pleased to see that resorts in New Zealand are making a stand and leading the way. Maybe the European resorts will take notice and start to clamp down on lift smoking and other forms of antisocial smoking. I am sure there will be many people that have stronger opinions in both camps and we would encourage you to post your views below.
While we await your opinions, we will leave you with one last fact from the New Zealand ban. The resort has no plans to enforce the smoking ban with fines and simply hopes that people will respect the initiative.