The Swiss parliament is debating tighter restrictions on the marketing of tobacco products following a people’s initiative calling for a tobacco ad ban, reports SwissInfo.
Switzerland’s tobacco laws are among the world’s most liberal. Despite recent implementation of stricter laws for the industry, such as compulsory smoking areas on train platforms, 27 percent of the country’s population over the age of 15 smokes, according to the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health.
Switzerland is among the few countries that haven’t ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, despite signing on to the treaty 17 years ago. Until now, advertising targeting young people remains unregulated.
In 2018, more than 100,000 people signed a people’s initiative to protect children and young people from tobacco advertising.
The government, however, has recommended its rejection of the initiative, saying it would amount to a complete advertising ban, which, it argues, goes too far.
In place of the initiative, the national government recommended a tightening of the current Tobacco Products Law. The Senate debated this bill in September 2019, and stricter rules on advertising were proposed, including regulating advertising for e-cigarettes. More than 45 percent of 16-year-olds consume this new form of tobacco on a weekly basis.
In the current spring session, a majority of the House of Representatives followed the recommendation of its Health Committee and rejected the initiative in favor of the bill submitted by the senate.
The parliamentary committee doesn’t, however, plan to mandate that the tobacco industry report figures for spending on advertising. It also won’t ban tobacco advertising in newspapers or on websites that aren’t exclusively aimed at minors.
Several parliamentarians view the proposed tobacco rules as an attack on companies’ commercial freedom and on an individual’s right to choose.
Switzerland is home to Philip Morris International and Japan Tobacco International.