Until recently considered a slow adopter of anti-smoking regulations, the Swiss nation is now working to align with the global trend. With a smoking rate of almost 25 %, which is low compared to many, the country is nevertheless beginning to concern the World Health Organisation (WHO). It must be kept in mind that Switzerland is among the 10 % of countries that did not ratify the WHO’s 2003 anti-smoking convention.
Some have accused the Swiss nation of turning a blind eye on the public health issue of advertising for tobacco products. Working to counter these allegations, Switzerland is changing tack and appears to be adopting some of the health authority’s recommendations. A law proposal rejected by Parliament in 2016 has been rewritten and is to be put forth for consideration once again.
A “tiered” regulation system for tobacco
The previously-rejected law proposal was set to ban all advertising for tobacco products. This blanket ban has been written out, and the new advertising ban only concerns promotional efforts that target minors. While a step in the right direction, this measure will not be sufficient to make Switzerland a shining example in this department.
The new law would also strengthen regulations in regards to the sale of tobacco products. The Federal Council wished to enforce a system to ban all sales of tobacco products to minors across the nation. While some Cantons already apply this measure, others are more permissive, and in these areas cigarettes are sold with no age restriction.
E-cigarettes are also included in this law proposal. It must be noted that these devices have proven effective in the fight against tobacco, but like most countries, the Swiss will be grouping e-cigs with traditional cigarettes in many respects. The sale of vaping devices will be restricted to only over-18s, and usage will be banned in non-smoking areas. Switzerland is in this manner aligning with the rest of Europe when it comes to smoking and vaping regulations.
Finally, on the subject of snus, a smokeless tobacco product similar to chewable or “dipped” tobacco which is quite popular among younger Swiss users, no restrictions will be enforced. However, a warning label on snus will be mandatory, warning consumers of its addictive potential.