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 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 471.

    Smokers now have designated areas,in which to smoke.If you dont smoke,why are you there? As for smoking in public places the give away is in the title,Public,not only for everyone who doesn't smoke.As for smoking in enclosed public places,it just hasn't existed in England since July 2007.To all non smokers,I won't make choices for you,please don't assume you can make them for me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 329.

    Canada has not yet imposed a ban on the home - yours or someone else's (if the someone else permits), but all other enclosed places e.g. pubs, restaurants, stores, etc. have a non-smoking ban. At first if feels restrictive, but it doesn't take long to get used of it, and let's face it non-smokers do not deserve to receive second-hand smoke.

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    Which is the more annoying & anti-social: smoking or bossing other people around?

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    Smoking has been proven to be the cause of emphysema,other cancer related diseases. Irrespective of the vote, the Swiss health authorities should do more to protect citizens from the harmful effects of smoking,passive smoking as well. This would require stricter controls on public smoking: adequate punishment when the laws are infringed.Only a tough public stance will bring the desired results!


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