Voters in Switzerland took to the polls on Sunday to approve a “near-total ban” on tobacco advertising in the country. Almost 57% of voters and 16 out of 26 Swiss cantons backed changes that limit the advertisement for tobacco products.
According to Swiss Info, the country currently “has some of the weakest laws against tobacco advertising in Europe,” and 31.7% of people aged 15 to 24 smoke. NGO Addiction Switzerland called the move a “big step forward,” while some opponents see the vote as an “intrusion on economic freedoms.”
Some Swiss cantons have introduced stricter regional legislation and a new national law is pending, but the campaigners who forced the issue to a vote under Switzerland’s direct democracy system demanded far tighter rules.
Grégoire Vittoz, director of the NGO Addiction Switzerland, said the result marked a ‘big step forward’ in the fight against smoking in the Alpine nation, which is home to the world’s largest cigarette companies, Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco, and currently has some of the weakest laws against tobacco advertising in Europe.
Opponents of the initiative were disappointed with Sunday’s result.
Critics, who included the government, parliament and the advertising industry, argued unsuccessfully that the text was too extreme, an intrusion on economic freedoms and hard to implement in the digital age.