Queenstown snow giant NZSki is undertaking what’s believed to be a first for southern hemisphere ski resorts – going smoke-free.
The company plans banning visitors and staff from lighting up at The Remarkables snow field in Queenstown this winter.
At Queenstown’s Coronet Peak and Canterbury’s Mt Hutt, the smoking ban will only apply to employees.
NZSki has made the bold move in a bid to promote healthy lifestyles for mountain guests and amongst staff, NZSki marketing manager Craig Douglas says.
“We’re about healthy pursuits in clean, green places. We’re not going to be marching around with batons telling people off, we’re just setting up the expectation and hopefully good sense will prevail.”
Remarkables ski area boss Ross Lawrence adds: “It’s about education, we don’t intend to police. We want to provide a smoke-free environment for a multitude of guests who don’t smoke. It’s really asking people who do want a cigarette to consider other people around them.”
All seasonal NZSki staff have been recruited with the knowledge they’re not allowed to smoke from as soon as they get on NZSki transport at the downtown Snow Centre, to the mountains and back at the end of the day.
NZSki will provide all the necessary support to staff who want to quit, including providing access to counselling, doctors’ appointments and help in getting Government-funded medication.
“We haven’t had anybody come back to us and say, ‘I’m not happy about this’,” Douglas says.
“There are a number of people who are looking forward to the opportunity to be able to give up smoking with the support we’re going to be providing.”
Lawrence adds the non-smoking approach will be “more rigid” with staff than with mountain users – “but only from the perspective that it’s something we don’t want the public to see and that we do want to help them to lead a healthy life”.
All previously designated smoking areas – for staff and public – have been removed at The Remarkables.
Smoking areas for workers at Coronet Peak and Mt Hutt are also gone.
The company has no plans to introduce the ban for mountain users at Coronet Peak and Mt Hutt yet. NZSki expects the new stance will be well-received by the public.
“The vast majority of our guests don’t smoke already,” Lawrence says.
“Those that do, hopefully they don’t take offence. You get that in a lot of circles now, when you’re outside a restaurant or in a public area, people are aware of it. We’re adding to that.”
Regular Remarkables snowboarder – and local smoker – Jono Budd (left) says he’s surprised by the move but understands why NZSki’s going smoke-free.
“I’m not completely supportive, but there’s nothing I can do about it,” he says.
“Where I’ve snowboarded in the United States, they don’t allow it, so I’m used to it, it’s cool.
“But if you’re up there for eight hours a day and you’re addicted to smoking, you’re going to smoke. It might be pretty hard to enforce.”
The Remarkables is to open on June 22. Coronet Peak opens this Saturday.