SWITZERLAND. JT International (JTI) opened a new Smoking Lounge at Geneva International Airport on Monday, marking the latest move in the Japan Tobacco company’s acclaimed drive to open Smoking Lounges and Stations at key international airports.

The inauguration was particularly important for JTI, as the company has its headquarters in Geneva. Geneva Airport joins airports such as Athens, Bali, Moscow, Zurich, Kiev, Ho Chi Minh City, Marrakech, Casablanca and Agadir in hosting JTI Smoking Lounges, which offer passengers a relaxing environment to pause before boarding their flights.

(Top left) JTI Executive Vice President, Deputy CEO and Chief Financial Officer Yasushi Shingai shares his pride at the opening in Geneva, JTI’s home town; (Top right) Geneva Airport General Manager Robert Deillon says the new lounge is “a magnificent piece of infrastructure”; (Below left) Shingai and Deillon inaugurate the new lounge while (right) Shingai is joined at the opening by outgoing JTI Worldwide Head of Duty Free Eddie Touma

“Allowing smokers to smoke, while respecting the rights of non-smokers, is a top priority for JTI,” said JTI Executive Vice President, Deputy CEO and Chief Financial Officer Yasushi Shingai at the opening. “Smoking Lounges demonstrate JTI’s belief that it is possible to develop win-win solutions that do not exclude smokers and meet the legitimate interests of those who do not want to be exposed to tobacco smoke.”

Geneva International Airport General Manager Robert Deillon described the lounge as “a magnificent piece of infrastructure” providing comfort, light and good design.

He said: “Thanks to excellent collaboration with the JTI company, which marks its attachment to the city of its headquarters, Geneva Airport now has installations for smokers worthy of its ambitions and comparable with the best airports in this domain. Even though Geneva Airport continues to be strict in these matters, this service will offer travellers from the region and foreign visitors an image of tolerance and respect for both smokers and non-smokers.”

He added: “This result is also the beginning of a series of changes that will make Geneva Airport a completely renewed gateway in the months to come.”

The new lounge at Geneva Airport is bright, well ventilated and has a premium look

In December 2005 the airport decided to take a more stringent policy on smoking in public areas, which prompted the creation of a single smoking lounge in the transit area. The airport contacted manufacturers interested in a partnership and selected JTI in early 2007.

Yasushi Shingai said: “As air traffic density increases around the world, so do the challenges of managing peak travel periods, weather delays and other disruptions. If you’re a regular traveller like me, you have to realistic about this, but the fact is, we tend to spend longer on the ground than we would like.

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“All the more reason to applaud when an airport goes out of its way to make that time as comfortable as possible. Geneva Airport handles over 10 million passengers a year. Statistically around a quarter of them are likely to be smokers. Rather than marginalising these travellers, enterprising airports are providing facilities where they can smoke between flights. And do so in comfort without disturbing other airport users.”

And there are more openings to come. “By the end of this year we will have 45 lounges and over 200 stations in 17 airports that have a combined traffic of 200 million passengers a year,” said Shingai.

He also said that the Smoking Lounges were not “a grudging solution to an unwelcome problem”. Shingai said: “Here in Geneva you’ll find a well designed, attractively lit, centrally located, contemporary space that is convenient to retail and other facilities. Our experience has helped us to develop state-of-the-art air flow and ventilation systems.”

Shingai also addressed the opening in the context of City of Geneva’s recent decision to ban smoking in public places. He said: “TO my mind, the ability to understand and accommodation the preferences of others, where it is appropriate to do so and where exemptions to the law apply, can only reinforce the spirit of internationalism that Geneva has promoted to successfully over the years. And which it has also benefited from.”

An interview with Yasushi Shingai about JTI’s global business will appear soon at www.TheMoodieReport.com
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