Swiss reject full ban on smoking in public spaces

Smoking (file image) Smoking restrictions have been applied unevenly across Swiss cantons

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Voters in Switzerland have rejected a total ban on smoking in enclosed public places at a referendum.

Although Geneva voted slightly in favour, results from the country's other 25 cantons showed a majority of voters rejected a full ban.

Hotels, restaurants and bars are allowed rooms for smokers but critics say workers' health is at risk.

Restrictions introduced two years ago were watered down after lobbying from the catering trade and tobacco firms.

In some cantons, more than 70% of voters rejected the ban, according to Geneva newspaper La Tribune de Geneve. Geneva itself bucked the trend by supporting the ban by 52% to 48%.

Geneva and seven other cantons have already imposed their own comprehensive bans on indoor smoking in places of employment while the remaining, smaller cantons have been less restrictive.

The result was welcomed by the Swiss Business Federation which called it "heartening".

"The initiative would have imposed more costs on restaurateurs who have already made considerable investments to protect non-smokers," it said in a statement.

Result 'deplored'

Swiss hotel association Hotelleriesuisse said it was relieved by the outcome. It said a "yes" vote would have made "some investments obsolete".

The Swiss Socialist party "deplored" the result, saying that better protection against passive smoking would have "incontestably been a major step in the improvement of (workers') conditions".

Speaking before the vote, Jean-Charles Rielle, a doctor and member of the committee behind the proposal, told AFP news agency that they wanted to clear up confusion created by the existing regulations.

"In the cantons where these laws [banning smoking rooms] are already in effect, we saw immediately... a 20% drop in hospitalisation due to cardiovascular incidents, heart attacks and these kinds of problems," he said.

La Tribune de Geneve suggests voters rejected a full ban because they did not want to force the smaller cantons into changing their local laws, and because of resentment at perceived state interference in people's lives.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 528.

    Just remind me would you? Isn't Switzerland where all the best health sanatoriums are located? I can't imagine entering a smokey pub, club or venue nowadays the Swiss decision seems so archaic & unenlightened in the 21C. But that's the Swiss I suppose.

  • rate this

    Comment number 527.

    Just because a place is designated as public does not give people carte blanche to do whatever they like. How dare people who are addicted to an anti-social behaviour complain when they are asked not to smoke in public spaces? We, the majority who do not smoke, prefer not to endure your disgusting stench, nor do we want your butt-ends littering the pavement. Your freedom stops where ours begins.

  • rate this

    Comment number 526.

    Smoking is nothing but a total mugs game. It has no benefits and costs a fortune to 1st your health, 2nd your pocket and 3rd it makes you stink like an old ashtray; BUT! If you like to self inflict an unhealthy life style on your body then smoking is the Number 1 way to go about it...cancers, blood poisoning etc etc etc. BAN IT!

  • rate this

    Comment number 525.

    Quite possibly the last bastion of freedom. Virtually no taxes, and a government so small you'd hardly notice they had one. And the people are given their say. Strange how they don't seem to be involved in any wars, don't make sweeping morality statements on other peoples' soverignty, and don't inhibit welfareism. I'd be surprised if anyone could even name their President. Democracy at its finest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 524.

    I realise that many smokers on here do so from purely altruistic reasons, to contribute more in tax than they need and to live shorter lives so they reduce their burden on the state in retirement. They are prepared to face painful and terrible diseases, erectile dysfunction, rotten teeth, bad breath, premature aging in order to fulfil this altruism. It has nothing to do with addiction to nicotine.

  • rate this

    Comment number 523.

    I wish smokers got up in arms for more serious issues than smoking bans but I guess they don't have the energy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 522.

    "There should be designated places for smokers"

    There already is. In the short term it is their own home or car or a wide open outdoor space with nobody else in it. In the long term the cancer ward would be very accommodating for your needs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 521.


    These all places you are mentioning are in open places despite their being public places, whereas, places like restaurants, hotels, hospitals are quite different where their rooms are almost airtight where passive smokes can harm all around inside those rooms, as such, smoking ban for us should initially be meant for these kind of places.

  • rate this

    Comment number 520.

    In my local,you have to smoke outside,in line with the law,smoke disperses quickly due to the forces of nature.If you are a responsable adult,why would you sit next to a smoker,if you have a baby?,and you are telling me you have no choice in walking behind a smoker everyday ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 519.

    @471 Yes public places are just that, public. That's why for example on public roads you can drive as fast as you want in anyway you see fit, oh wait no there are restrictions designed to protect others. I don't care how much someone smokes, I just don't want to breathe it in myself; if you have a portable hypobaric chamber fell free to use it anywhere you want.

  • rate this

    Comment number 518.

    Why do all nations have to be "progressive". The problem with these "progressives" is that they don't like anything that is a legitiamate opposition to their own views!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 517.

    @ 496,Idiot,of course you have a choice...move!

  • rate this

    Comment number 516.

    UK government take note of the Swiss democracy, perhaps we could have smoking bars introduced, go back to traditional pubs when it was saloon and lounge but now smoking/non-smoking. I don't think it will increase customers in summer, in my local the garden is packed with smokers and non, it would be a lot more inviting in winter, the removal of heat lamps outside would pay for ventilation inside.

  • rate this

    Comment number 515.

    Good news from switzerland. The result was a big NO!"

    Remember Switzerland only gave votes to women in the 1970s and only recently joined the UN (though happily hosts many UN and other international organisations and the immense subsidies they bring). So, it's hardly in the vanguard of progressive nations is it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 514.

    Fighting "fer yer freedam" to smoke doesn't make you William Wallace, it makes you Kevin Huntey with a megaphone
    Paedophiles abuse and kill children for satisfaction of their own selfish desires above all else. Sound familiar?
    This is what a smoker does in the street, their house, in their cars, in smoking areas in pub gardens all with children around
    Stop paedophils AND smokers both

  • rate this

    Comment number 513.

    I wish they'd stop outdoor smoking before 9 a.m and smoking outside the main doors of public buildings.

  • rate this

    Comment number 512.

    Best comment about banning smoking in public places was "I don't get fat when you eat a burger next to me. I don't get drunk when you drink a pint next to me. I do get cancer when you smoke next to me." nuff said really. Can't remember who said it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 511.

    Good news from switzerland. The result was a big NO!

  • rate this

    Comment number 510.

    There should be designated places for smokers. I think all this has gone too far, it's legal and still popular. Maybe there should be a ban on people of a certain weight limit, room at the room they take up et al and it's so bad for their health too!

  • rate this

    Comment number 509.

    @471 dave

    Notwithstanding, public places like restaurants, hospitals, offices where open air is less possible to drive out the expelled smokes easily and in such places total ban on smoking is suggestible. However, streets, parks etc.. despite being public places may be the choice of smokers because the later places are wide open as such passive smoke cannot harm the others around too much..


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