The mountain air will be a little bit fresher next month, with Whistler Blackcomb (WB) banning smoking on all resort property as of May 31.
The new policy, launched to mark World No Tobacco Day, will force smokers to butt out in lift lines, on chairlifts, gondolas, ski runs, hiking and biking trails, parking lots and all Whistler Blackcomb bars and restaurants, including patios.
Enforcing the ban on such a wide swath of property will undoubtedly be "a challenge," said WB president and CEO Dave Brownlie.
"It will start with increased signage about our fresh-air policy," he added. "Our employees will understand how to approach people, and hopefully people will respect that policy. Over time we think it will be self-policing."
Brownlie also confirmed Whistler Blackcomb does not have the authority to issue any kind of penalty for anyone caught smoking, other than a refusal of service.
The ban also applies to medicinal marijuana.
While guests will be banned from smoking on all resort property, Whistler Blackcomb staff will be permitted to smoke in designated areas for one year in order to adjust to the policy.
During that period, WB will provide staff with resources to assist in quitting smoking before the May 31, 2016 deadline.
The resort has been moving towards a smoke-free policy for some time. Under the previous regulations, smokers were permitted to light up in designated areas adjacent to on-mountain restaurant facilities. But after continued feedback from "a majority of guests," Brownlie said WB moved to a resort-wide ban.
The risk of wildfire in the dryer summer months also factored into the decision.
"We felt that this was the time to implement it because it would also have a positive impact in reducing the forest-fire risk and getting us used to it as we go into the winter season," noted Brownlie.
An information booth will be open in Skier's Plaza on May 31 to launch the smoking ban, with Whistler Blackcomb staff and Vancouver Coastal Health representatives on hand to answer the any questions.
"By taking this important step, Whistler Blackcomb is demonstrating it is a strong ambassador for health. We know many young people ski and snowboard, and youth who haven't started using tobacco by the time they are 26 years old will most likely never start," said Vancouver Coastal Health medical health officer, Dr. Paul Martiquet, in a release. "Eliminating smoking in public places, such as on our mountains, creates healthy role modelling so youth, and others, are less likely to even consider using tobacco."
For more information on Whistler Blackcomb's smoking policy, visit www.whistlerblackcomb.com/smokefree.