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Restaurant smoking ban favoured by Swiss

Most Swiss don't want cigarettes on their restaurant menu

(Keystone Archive)

A new poll has revealed that more than half the Swiss want smoking to be outlawed in restaurants, while seven in ten want a ban in public buildings.

These results, published in the latest edition of the tabloid Sonntagsblick, show the population supports anti-tobacco measures being implemented in Switzerland.

The poll was carried out last week after canton Ticino's parliament voted to ban smoking in restaurants, bars and discos. Slightly more than 52 per cent of those surveyed said they supported the ban.

People are even more categorical about smoking in public buildings. More than 71 per cent want cigarettes, cigars and pipes banished from stations or administration offices.

Philippe Vallat of the Federal Health Office told the Sonntagsblick the results confirmed a new trend. "This polls shows that most Swiss are now aware of the dangers of passive smoking and there has been a shift in the way people think," he said.

Last week, Italian-speaking Ticino became the first canton in Switzerland to announce a ban on smoking in public places. The move, which could come into force by late next year, was accepted by a large majority of the canton's parliament.

The assembly rejected a proposal to exempt nightclubs, discos and piano bars. Under the new rules - an amendment to the public-places law - only establishments with separate areas for smoking and which are well ventilated will be able to accept smokers.

The change in legislation follows public pressure on the authorities to do more to combat passive smoking.

Lax restrictions

In Switzerland, which has long had lax restrictions on cigarette use, there are signs of a nationwide change in attitudes.

Voters in Geneva are set to become the first in the country to decide whether to outlaw smoking in public places. Similar discussions are underway in several other cantons.

On a federal level, a motion on banning smoking in public places is waiting for the green light from the Senate's committee for social security and health before it can go before the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Cigarette packs in Switzerland will also carry larger warnings about the risks of lighting up as of April next year. Graphic pictures of diseased lungs will be introduced on packs in 2007.

The Swiss Federal Railways is banishing smoke from its trains when the new timetable comes into force in December. Most public transport services are introducing the same guidelines.

Gastrosuisse, the restaurant and hotel owners' association, has also called for a big increase in smoke-free seating, but said this should be left up to the individual establishment and not be enforced by law.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Smoking kills 8,300 people each year in Switzerland.
According to the Sonntagsblick survey, 52.2% of the 603 people polled want smoking to be banned from restaurants, and 71.7% want the same ban in public buildings.
An earlier study from Zurich University showed three in four smokers and 87% of non-smokers wanted half of the space in restaurants to be set aside as smoke-free zones.
The Federal Health Office aims to cut the number of smokers from 32% to 25% by 2007.

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In brief

Parliament is expected to decide on a smoking ban in public places.

On October 12, canton Ticino's parliament gave the green light to a smoking ban in restaurants, giving owners one year to prepare special smoking areas.

Parliaments in cantons Graubünden and Neuchâtel have to vote on similar proposals and Baselland has accepted a smoking ban in public buildings.

Geneva will vote on the issue next year.

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