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Smokers' hopes stubbed out

A group seeking to overturn bans on smoking in bars and restaurants have abandoned their attempt.

The "No to Smoking Bans" committee, founded last autumn, was attempting to collect 50,000 signatures to support its bid to force a nationwide vote on the issue.

A law was passed by parliament in October 2008, which outlaws smoking in public areas such as schools, hospitals and cinemas, although smoking will still be permitted in some restaurants.

The law comes into force in mid-2009.

The group also wanted to force a vote against a stricter smoking ban in canton Bern, for which it needed 10,000 signatures.

However, it managed only a grand total of 6,000. Since there is no more than a week left for the collection of signatures for the nationwide vote, the organisers called off the campaign. The time limit for the cantonal referendum has already expired.

The organiser said there had been practically no support from cantons where a ban is already in force.

Switzerland's 26 cantons are free to introduce their own stricter regulations – if voters agree. So far 13 have expressed the intention to do so.

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