GENEVA: The Swiss voted on Sunday to tighten their notoriously lax tobacco legal guidelines by banning just about all advertising of the hazardous merchandise.
Nearly 57% of voters and 16 of Switzerland’s 26 cantons backed the near-total tobacco advertising ban, remaining outcomes confirmed.
“We are extremely happy. The people understood that health is more important than economic interests,” Stefanie De Borba of the Swiss League towards Most cancers, informed AFP.
Switzerland lags far behind most rich nations in limiting tobacco advertising — a state of affairs broadly blamed on substantial lobbying by among the world’s greatest tobacco firms headquartered within the nation.
At the moment, most tobacco advertising is authorized at a nationwide stage, besides on tv and radio, and when particularly focusing on minors.
Some Swiss cantons have launched stricter regional laws and a brand new nationwide regulation is pending, however the campaigners who pressured the problem to a vote beneath Switzerland’s direct democracy system demanded far tighter guidelines.
Opponents of the initiative, which embrace the Swiss authorities and parliament, argued that it goes too far.
Politically right ‘dictatorship’
“Today we are talking about cigarettes, but we will soon be talking about alcohol and meat,” warned Philippe Bauer, a parliamentarian with the right-wing Liberal Celebration, decrying “this dictatorship of the politically correct, where everything has to be regulated”.
His issues echo these voiced by Philip Morris Worldwide (PMI), the world’s largest tobacco firm, which, like British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco, is headquartered in Switzerland and has helped fund the “No” marketing campaign.
“This is a slippery slope as far as individual freedom is concerned,” a spokesman for PMI’s Swiss part informed AFP.
He decried Sunday’s consequence and urged parliament to present “moderation and measure” when drafting the choice into regulation.
Jean-Paul Humair, who heads a Geneva habit prevention centre, hailed Sunday’s win as “a very important step” within the battle towards tobacco use, and flatly rejected the business’s arguments.
“This is not a question of freedom… It is an illusion of freedom,” he informed AFP, declaring that tobacco use creates extreme dependency.
‘Kills half of all customers’
“There is no other consumer product that kills half of all users.”
Campaigners say lax advertising legal guidelines have stymied efforts to carry down smoking charges within the Alpine nation of 8.6 million individuals, the place greater than 1 / 4 of adults eat tobacco merchandise. There are round 9,500 tobacco-linked deaths every year.
Pascal Diethelm, head of the OxyRomandie tobacco management group, informed AFP that Sunday’s vote ought to assist lead to a “change of paradigm” for federal authorities.
“(They) have been accepting for too long that health prevention policy be put under the tutelage of big business,” they stated.
The tobacco business contributes round six billion Swiss francs ($6.5 billion, 5.7 billion euros) to the financial system yearly — one % of Switzerland’s gross home product — and accounts for some 11,500 jobs.
Swiss Well being Minister Alain Berset in the meantime confused to journalists that it may take time for the near-ban to take impact.
“It really does not seem possible that it could take effect this year,” he stated.
The brand new tobacco advertising restrictions may conceivably be added to a brand new tobacco regulation already due to take impact subsequent yr, and which for the primary time will set a nationwide minimal age for the acquisition of tobacco merchandise.
Different points on Sunday’s poll didn’t fare as nicely within the polls.
Nearly 80% of voters rejected a name to ban all animal testing.
All political events, parliament and the federal government had opposed the initiative, arguing it went too far and would have dire penalties for medical analysis.
In one other animal-themed vote, inhabitants within the northern Basel-Stadt canton additionally massively rejected a bid to afford non-human primates among the identical primary basic rights as their human cousins, with nearly 75% opposed.
Greater than 55% of voters additionally rejected a plan by the nationwide authorities to present further state funding to media firms, which have seen their advertising revenues evaporate lately.
Nearly 44% of eligible Swiss voters took half Sunday, which isn’t unusually low in a rustic the place such widespread votes are held each few months.