Smoking will be banned in Switzerland’s trains, buses, and boat services as well as inside transport company buildings from December.
The Public Transport Union (PTU), whose members include the Swiss Federal Railways, said protecting passengers against passive smoking was more important than individual freedoms.
The transport umbrella organisation on Wednesday announced it would outlaw passive smoking in the interest of customers. It said that passengers – including 20 per cent who are smokers - generally were in favour of a ban.
The country’s main consumer group has welcomed the move.
The no-smoking rule goes into force with the arrival of a new timetable on December 11. Altogether, 17 companies will introduce the ban.
Each of the association’s members decided individually whether to go ahead with the restrictions.
A number of railway companies have already introduced smoking bans, the best-known being the Jungfrau Railways in the Bernese Oberland and Cisalpino line between Switzerland and neighbouring Italy.
The new restrictions, besides outlawing smoking on trains, buses, and boat services, also include enclosed spaces at stations and depots or open areas where airflow is restricted.
People will be allowed to light up on outside decks onboard ferries.
The Federal Railways said they would eliminate smoking sections from all their trains, in both first and second-class carriages.
"Even smokers want to travel in non-smoking wagons," said spokesman Roland Binz.
The cigarette ban will have a welcome side effect for transport companies. They can expect to cut their cleaning costs substantially.
On Tuesday the railways announced plans to slash cleaning overheads by one fifth in the next five years. The work carried out by 600 specialised staff will be turned over to regular railway personnel.
The company said that newer rolling stock meant there was less work for railway workers.
The decision to outlaw smoking on public transport comes as passive smoking is becoming a major issue. A national advertising campaign on television bankrolled by the Federal Health Office has been highlighting the effects smoke has on personnel.
Politicians have also been calling for smoking bans in public areas, although it has been left to the country’s 26 cantons to legislate so far.
Plans to restrict smoking in cafés and restaurants in canton Bern were narrowly defeated last week, while canton Lucerne decided to prohibit sales of cigarettes to anyone under the age of 16 on Tuesday.
Italy recently banned smoking in public areas, while Britain is considering similar restrictions.
swissinfo with agencies
Smoking will be banned in all public transport as of December 11 this year.
Canton Lucerne decided on June 28 to prohibit sales of cigarettes to teenagers under the age of 16.
Canton Bern's parliament narrowly turned a proposal to restrict smoking in cafés and restaurants.