Minister to review sponsorship rules after dumping Philip Morris

The ministry had previously argued that Philip Morris was an important multinational with its European headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. Keystone

Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis has confirmed his intention to review sponsorship policy, after an aborted partnership with a tobacco firm.

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At the end of July, Cassis dumped Swiss-based cigarette company Philip Morris as a sponsor of the Swiss pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, following a wave of negative headlines and criticism from health organisations. 

In an interview with the Sonntagsblick newspaper, he said Philip Morris did not represent the whole economy but rather “an industry sector which has been criticized from all sides”. His decision to reject the partnership was also “in line with the times”.

+Read more about the foreign ministry position on Philip Morris

Parliament has approved a proposal to have half of the CHF15 million ($15.1 million) for the Swiss pavilion in Dubai provided by private sponsors. Philip Morris had been due to chip in CHF1.8 million. 

Presence Switzerland director Nicolas Bideau, the man who negotiated the partnership with Philip Morris, told Swiss television RTS on Saturday that it would now be “complicated” to meet the private sponsorship target of CHF7.5 million for the Swiss pavilion, although he was still in “very open discussions with firms in the watchmaking, luxury and banking sectors”.

Bideau said he still had good relations with his boss Cassis and agreed that it was now necessary to look at the private sponsorship rules for Switzerland’s presence abroad.

“The discussion is interesting, because it will oblige us to be flexible, to define what is good and bad in the context of a collaboration abroad,” he told RTS, stressing that “there is currently no legal basis governing sponsorship at federal government level”.

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