Swiss Support Tighter Limits on Tobacco Ads
A majority of Swiss voters want to limit tobacco advertising seen by minors, reports SWI.
During a ballot on Feb. 13, 56.6 percent of voters and most of the country’s 26 cantons backed a proposal to ban all tobacco and e-cigarette advertising that may reach young people in Switzerland. About 5.3 million people took part in the vote.
Gregoire Vittoz, director of Addiction Switzerland, described the outcome as a “big step forward.”
“The people have understood that health is more important than economic interests,” said Stefanie de Borba of the League Against Cancer.
Home to some of the world’s largest tobacco companies, including Philip Morris International and Japan Tobacco International, Switzerland currently has some of the weakest laws against tobacco advertising in Europe.
While cigarette ads in general on television and radio are prohibited at the federal level, each region has different rules for tobacco promotions in cinemas and public places, such as festivals or public transport. Only a few cantons ban cigarette ads in the written press or on the internet.
Around one in four people in Switzerland smokes—a share that has remained stable over the past decade. The figure is slightly higher among 15-year-olds to 24-year-olds. Research shows that most adult smokers began when they were minors.
Critics of the people’s initiative, which included the Swiss government, argued unsuccessfully that the proposal represented an intrusion on economic freedoms and would be hard to implement in the digital age. They submitted a counterproposal that would have still allowed tobacco advertising at points of sale.
Federal authorities must now adjust Switzerland’s Tobacco Product Law to incorporate the proposal. A law must be drafted and put forward for consultation and discussion in Parliament. Once adopted, the law must be subjected to a facultative referendum. Health Minister Alain Berset said the new rules are unlikely to take force in 2022.