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 122.

    This is long overdue. The European Union should also ensure that there is a blanket ban in all of its member states. The sooner the UK Government bans the sale of tobacco and outlaws smoking in all public places the better for everybody. Thereafter smokers should be made to take out private medical insurance and prevented from using the NHS.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    When all the methane has melted in a few years you cannot kindle a light beacon anymore. What tobacco-smoking really is? no synonym in any thesaurus could try coming anywhere near that. But i bet that captains of the trade will get the best welcome in parliaments. Now, what would happen if carbomb-monoxide spreads all over the palace? sorry, cannot think, dogs are barking 24/7. itAliens? crickeet

  • rate this

    Comment number 307.

    Smoking should be banned full stop, and that day is fast approaching, and a new deadly pastime will have to be found to be enjoyed in the social/council housing of Great Britain. Past smokers will have to take out private health insurance, although of course I'm sure a labour government will make the tax payer fund it, under a guise of a new benefit/hand out to them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    wow, I thought Switzerland would surely have had a smoking ban by now. How can a country perceived to have such a high standard of living still allow smoking in public? That sounds too primitive to be true. Sometimes democracy really can shoot itself in the foot. If the smokers vote to continue to endanger other peoples health through their own selfishness then it can be said to have failed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    If you are stupid enough to smoke you shouldn't get to vote


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