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Public health New initiative calls for tobacco advertising ban

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The committee behind the initiative believes that the government’s suggested measures pander to the tobacco industry’s wishes

(Keystone)

All tobacco advertising that targets children and young adults should be banned, demands a people’s initiative launched in Switzerland on Tuesday.

Campaigners now have 18 months to collect the necessary at least 100,000 signatures to force a nationwide vote.

They say the initiative responds to parliament’s previous refusal to pass a law on tobacco advertisement and “watered down” proposals from the government.

In 2016, parliament rejected a proposal to ban tobacco advertisement, aimed at preventing young people from picking up a smoking habit. Both houses rejected a ban, saying that it went too far and was unlikely to be effective. The proposal was sent back to the Federal Council to be redrafted.

The new government proposals include advertising bans in cinemas, on billboards and in subscription newspapers no longer featured. Only uncontested elements of the original proposals were included.

The people's initiative “Yes to protecting children and young people from tobacco advertising” has now called on the government to ban “any and all forms of advertisements for tobacco products targeting children and young people”, reported the Swiss News Agency on Tuesday.

+More women dying from tobacco-related illnesses 

The initiative was launched by an alliance called “Healthy Switzerland” and is supported by a large number of public health associations such as the Swiss Cancer Leagueexternal link, The Swiss Lung League, and PharmaSuisse.

Watered-down version

The government says it still wants to prevent young people from taking up smoking. It new proposals include a national ban on selling tobacco products to minors. However, this is already in effect in the majority of Swiss cantons.

The initiative aims to go further by banning tobacco advertisements on the internet as well as in free newspapers. It also plans to ban strategic tobacco product placements targeted at young people, such as selling cigarettes next to the sweets.

The committee behind the public initiative believes that the government’s suggested measures are too watered-down from the original proposal and pander to the tobacco industry’s wishes. This would not adequately protect youngsters from the harmful effects of smoking, wrote the Swiss Cancer League in a statementexternal link on Tuesday.

The initiative text states that whilst individual responsibility and motivation are important, the government must take a more active role in promoting the health of children and young people.

SDA-ATS/swissinfo.ch/ln

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