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Diamond Peak resort considers smoke-free skiing

Kevin MacMillan / North Lake Tahoe Bonanza

Whether it’s eliminating smoking from bars and restaurants to making it illegal to smoke inside a vehicle with a minor present, the push to go smoke-free in and around the Lake Tahoe Basin is gaining steam.

One of the more recent trends involves area ski and snowboard resorts going the smoke-free route, something that recently has been brought up as a possibility for Diamond Peak, Incline Village’s lone mountain resort.

While the idea is backed by a percentage of the population, making Diamond Peak a smoke-free facility is something that is hard to manage, said Ed Youmans, general manager of the resort.



“The problem is, we have such a small staff that honestly can’t be spending its time looking for violators,” Youmans said. “The problem is that if we put up signs that say ‘No smoking,’ then it becomes my job to enforce it. That becomes very taxing on my staff. We’d much rather spend our time working on the ski area.”

At last week’s Incline Village General Improvement District Board of Trustees meeting, trustees and IVGID staff briefly discussed the feasibility of the resort going smoke-free.



Trustee John Bohn said he had heard stories of people being bothered by cigarette smoke while standing in line for a lift. Trustee Gene Brockman said he thought the mountain was fine as is.

IVGID General Manager Bill Horn asked the board if it wanted something on a future IVGID agenda on whether to vote on the issue. The board tabled the discussion, however, since any changes made would have to wait until the next fiscal year.

On Monday, Youmans said if the mountain were to go smoke-free, basically the only thing his staff could is construct “No smoking” signs.

“The practicality of it is that there’s absolutely there’s no return on it dollarwise,” Youmans said. “If there’s going to be a sign, it simply has to be enforced, and we’re not going to hire staff to enforce it.”

Heavenly Valley and Northstar-at-Tahoe are two ski resorts that recently have made the switch to smoke-free.

There now are just two designated smoking areas in the entire village. The transition is going fine, said Jessica VanPernis, communications manager at Northstar.

“A lot of people don’t like it, having to stand in line and smell cigarettes,” she said. “We don’t encourage smoking, and so far, we’ve been receiving positive feedback.”

VanPernis said “No smoking” signs are strewn about the mountain and village at Northstar. As for enforcement, the staff doesn’t pull extra strings, she said.

“We basically tell our employees across the board to try and instill the message,” she said.

At Diamond Peak, Youmans said smoking generally isn’t a problem.

“There’s not really many people smoking; I don’t know that there’s a huge contingent of smokers,” he said. “The reality of it is that smog is 100 times worse, and we’re having these wildfires; there’s smoke in the air already. I don’t know how bad someone smoking a cigarette from 50 feet away can be.”

Youmans said his and IVGID’s obligation to Incline Village and Crystal Bay also plays into any future decisions on the issue.

“We’re responsible for these people,” he said. “The issue definitely warrants discussion, but if there’s not a big appeal from the people in Incline Village, then we’re not going to push it.”


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