A proposal to ban special smokers’ lounges and bars has been thrown out by Swiss voters in a nationwide ballot. The government welcomed Sunday’s result but vowed to continue anti-smoking prevention efforts.
Two out of three voters rejected an initiative by the Lung League aimed at boosting the protection of waiting staff against the effects of second-hand smoke.
The proposal, supported by health organisations and centre-left parties, sought to tighten current minimum legislation which bans smoking in restaurants but allows cantonal authorities to grant exceptions.
Eighteen of the 26 cantons currently have a more liberal law, while only eight others, mainly in the French-speaking part of the country, have imposed an outright ban.
Interior Minister Alain Berset said the protection against second-hand smoke remained high on the agenda of the government despite voters’ rejection of a stricter nationwide legislation.
“Today’s ‘No’ is not a ‘No’ to second-hand smoke,” he told a news conference. Voters were just not willing to amend the law, less than three years after parliament agreed a compromise, according to Berset.
Existing legislation is showing positive results and smoking remains banned in indoor public places, he added.