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 768.

    You must be American. You are not going to spend your tourist dollars, good, perhaps you could persuade your government to stop spending your tax dollars on war, invasion and regime change and stop coercing our lilly livered government from supporting your wars.

  • rate this

    Comment number 767.

    The best way to ensure that you get your own way in a democracy is to never ask the electorate, but if you must then frame the question to guarantee the answer is within tolerable bounds.

    It's a good job the Swiss don't behave in that manner. The result may not be to everyone's liking but that's what democracy is: you present an argument and you respect the will of the people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 766.

    The people have chosen, a working peoples democracy

    Unlike in Britain where the tail wags the dog and the British people are forced to be ruled by elites

    Until Britain embraces real democracy this country is doomed to live forever in the slow lane of economic and social development

  • rate this

    Comment number 765.

    The evidence never existed – it was always a con.
    The eminent physiologist, who identified the link between smoking and lung cancer, when appearing on Desert Island Discs, answered the ETS question.
    When asked what he thought about second hand smoke, Professor Sir Richard Doll answered: "The effect of other people smoking in my presence is so small it doesn't worry me."

  • rate this

    Comment number 764.

    @749 Sadly I must spell it out for those smoking more cigs/day than they have brain cells.Anyone on this website,using this message board will be able to read and write,have access to the internet and the wealth neccessary to have achieved the first 3 things.They by definition are not people of poor education in the 3rd world.If you can read this you DO know the indisputable harm smoking does

  • rate this

    Comment number 763.

    Our useless corrupt politicians vote for us.

    Hip HIp - puke !

  • rate this

    Comment number 762.

    Pancha Chandra
    Son your living in the wrong country, I suggest you would feel more at home in the USA the land of the not so free. There you will be able to enjoy being shot at by rednecks, no smoking in public parks and the full power of the repressive anal retentive state using their police to beat you up should you consider protesting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 761.

    It is almost unbelievable that there are still people who consider smoking in public to be an acceptable activity. Smoking and passive smoking kills - it really is that simple. Accordingly, no employer can take the risk of exposing their staff to this behaviour. Smokers will just have accept this is not about freedom of choice, democracy or human rights - it is public safety, plain and simple.

  • rate this

    Comment number 760.

    Should we ban hamburgers because the farts of millions of cows contribute to climate change and increase MY chances of developing melanoma?

    Surely I should be able to go for a nice drive in the country without smelling the bi-product of YOUR habits.

    Watch out anti-smokers...

    "First they came for the smokers..."

  • Comment number 759.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 758.

    756 mjs. I know plenty of sickly non-smokers like yourself with asthma, allergies, psychosis and irrational phobias. Maybe you should start smoking - it does have many benefits and could improve your unfortunate sad life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 757.

    I have just returned from a business trip to an eastern European country where smoking is still allowed in hotels and restaurants. There were some places where the passive smoke was so oppressive I just had to get outside to get away from it. It is easy to forget how bad things here used to be here. I can't help thinking the Swiss have made the wrong decision on this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 756.

    I don't smoke, never have; but I am violently allergic to it. I can not stay in hotel rooms where smokers have been, nor will I spend my tourist dollars where smoking ruins the food. There are a lot of places that I would like to travel to and spend my thousands of tourist dollars, but will never visit on account of the smoking.

  • rate this

    Comment number 755.

    @751 Surely the best way would be to ban it, and use the money 'saved' by the NHS for increased customs vigilance?

    You can't just retrict access to the NHS as then you'd have to do it for drinkers, junk food eaters, children whose parents conceived them knowing they would have a hereditary illness etc.

    @752 Not to mention all the revenue raised from tobacco sales.

  • rate this

    Comment number 754.

    Good for the Swiss, i never did understand what was wrong with smoking or non smoking pubs and other places , typical of this country always has to be the do gooder never compromises when it can ban , thats why we have a mess in the country now, others get a referendum we just get a dictate ,we are no longer a true democracy yet are fighting so others can be you could not make it up .

  • rate this

    Comment number 753.

    IMO successive governments should be tried for criminal negligence in continuing to allow smoking AT ALL.

    If i were to knowingly allow millions of people to die when I could prevent it, I would at the very least be morally responsible for their deaths.

    I say ban it out right, tomorrow.

    And I'm a smoker.

  • rate this

    Comment number 752.

    In actual fact the alleged health costs for smoking is a complete ruse. Even if we believe all the propaganda about smoking harm (I, and many others, don’t), all the costs are just brought forward - the costs are the same or even more later, when age related diseases set in. You will cost more in the last 3 years of your life than the rest of your life put together, whether you smoke or not!

  • rate this

    Comment number 751.

    best way to stop smokers would be to stop them using the NHS and force them to do it privately, as soon as those bills start adding up people will get the message plus it would save the NHS a lot of money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 750.

    Smoke all you want - just not around me. Father smoked died of COPD and bladder cancer, Brother smoked - died COPD & emphysema. Best friend smoked - died lung cancer. Anyone who smokes should be stricken from the health system and have to pay for healthcare on their own instead of burdening the people who care about their bodies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 749.

    732 "People in the 1950s had an excuse for their ignorance, those in the third world of poor education may still do, but not a person posting here."

    Was there a sign here: FIRST WORLD CITIZENS ONLY? I must have missed something.


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