A ban on advertising tobacco products in Switzerland has been rejected by the Swiss senate, who voted on Wednesday to protect a free market economy, rather than support health concerns.
The ban had been called for by the Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset, who said in Parliament that smoking was damaging not only from a health perspective, but also socially and financially.
The cabinet had argued that adverts had a particularly large impact on young people. According to a German study, the risk of young people taking up smoking increased by 46% if they were exposed to adverts for tobacco.
Opponents of the ban argued there was no proof that an advertising ban would stop people smoking.
Worldwide more than five million people die every year as a result of tobacco consumption. In Switzerland that number is 9,500.
The nationwide ban on selling cigarettes and other tobacco products to minors was undisputed, with a majority of parliamentarians explicitly expressing their support for laws protecting children and young people.
In this respect, it was argued, a legal basis is needed for test purchases to ensure shops aren’t selling tobacco to underage customers. A majority also agreed the importance of an existing ban on tobacco adverts directed at minors.
Tobacco advertising is already banned on the radio and on TV in Switzerland, but in 15 cantons billboard advertising is also prohibited.
In ten cantons cigarettes cannot be sold to under 18s, but in other parts of the country they can be sold to 16-year-olds.
In eastern Switzerland, it's traditional to see children lighting up as part of a special event that centres around a regional cattle show.
(Translated from German by Jo Fahy), swissinfo.ch