• Switzerland edition
 
Swiss voters say no to tougher smoking ban
Photo: Ta Duc

Swiss voters say no to tougher smoking ban

Published: 24 Sep 2012 08:50 GMT+02:00
Updated: 24 Sep 2012 08:50 GMT+02:00

Two-thirds of Swiss voters rejected a referendum Sunday to tighten a smoking ban, to the relief of hotels and restaurants, while two cantons split in a vote over keeping tax breaks for rich foreigners.

On the smoking ban, only Geneva voted slightly in favour of tougher controls, while results from the country's other 25 cantons showed that 66 percent rejected it, the ATS news agency reported.

The Swiss Business Federation called it a "heartening" result, saying the stricter laws would have been a burden on the economy, especially the restaurant sector.

"The initiative would have imposed more costs on restaurateurs who have already made considerable investments to protect non-smokers," it said in a statement.

Hotelleriesuisse, representing the hotel sector, said it was relieved by the outcome, adding that a "yes" vote would have made "some investments obsolete"

The referendum had asked voter whether to strengthen a smoking ban in indoor workplaces and public spaces.

The Socialist party "deplored" the result, saying stepping up protection against passive smoking would have "incontestably been a major step in the improvement of (workers') conditions".

Opinion polls had shown the country deeply divided on the eve of the referendum over the initiative by the Swiss Pulmonary League, which aimed at clearing up confusion about the current law and claimed that working an eight-hour shift in a smoke-filled environment is equivalent to smoking 15 to 38 cigarettes.

Switzerland introduced a federal ban on smoking in enclosed workplaces and public spaces more than two years ago, but the law allowed for a number of exceptions and has been applied unevenly across the country's 26 cantons.

And in another referendum held in just two cantons, Swiss voters were divided over a proposal to abolish special tax breaks for rich foreigners, with Basel-Landschaft approving it but the expat haven of Bern rejecting it.

While Basel-Landschaft canton voted "yes" to stamping out the tax privilege, only a handful of expats residing there benefit from the tax break, so the new rules will have little impact.

But in Bern canton -- which includes the ski resort of Gstaad, a renowned playground for wealthy expatriates -- 66.5 percent of voters opposed scrapping a system under which foreigners pay a lump-sum tax on the basis of their spending in Switzerland, instead of their earnings.

Still, a slim majority approved tightening the tax break, notably by setting a minimum tax amount at 400,000 Swiss francs (330,000 euros, $430,000).

In 2010, the number of so-called "tax refugees" in Switzerland taking advantage of the system stood at 5,445 and they paid 668 million Swiss francs in taxes, or an average of a little over €120,000 each.

Most of the Bern canton's expats who benefit from the system -- including French rocker Johnny Hallyday and French-Polish film director Roman Polanski -- live in Gstaad, a ritzy village dotted with luxury chalets.

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Wawrinka defeats Federer in all Swiss final
Stanislas Wawrinka celebrates after winning the Monte Carlo Masters as Roger Federer looks on. Photo: Valery Hache/AFP

Wawrinka defeats Federer in all Swiss final

Stanislas Wawrinka defeated Swiss compatriot Roger Federer 4-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 on Sunday to win the Monte Carlo Masters tennis tournament. READ () »

Federer sets up all Swiss tennis showdown
Stanislas Wawrinka and Davis Cup teammate Roger Federer pictured together in Geneva recently. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Federer sets up all Swiss tennis showdown

Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka eased into the Monte Carlo Masters final on Saturday, setting up the first all-Swiss title showdown in 14 years. READ () »

Mega diamond to be auctioned in Geneva
A Sotheby's employee poses for pictures with the "Graff Vivid Yellow," at 100.09 carats one of the rarest yellow diamonds of its size. Photo: Andrew Cowie/AFP

Mega diamond to be auctioned in Geneva

One of the world's largest yellow diamonds will go under the hammer in Geneva next month, with the Sotheby's auction house hoping to rake in up to $25 million for the gem. READ () »

Activist jailed for six years in Vasella case
Former Novartis chairman Daniel Vasella. Photo: AFP/File

Activist jailed for six years in Vasella case

A British animal rights activist was jailed for six years on Thursday for her part in a Europe-wide campaign of intimidation targeting Huntington Life Sciences, an animal testing company linked to Swiss pharma giant Novartis. READ () »

Zoo faces cruelty charges over cub deaths
Kurt Nünlist was appalled by the deaths of two cubs at the Bern zoo (photo:zvg)

Zoo faces cruelty charges over cub deaths

A Swiss animal lover has filed a legal complaint against Bern zoo, accusing it of cruelty over the deaths of two bear cubs. Dählhölzli zoo could be fined under Switzerland’s tough animal protection laws. READ () »

Germans smuggle cash out of Switzerland
Customs officials found €573 million in illegal money in 2013. Photo: Emilian Robert Vicol

Germans smuggle cash out of Switzerland

The number of Germans smuggling money out of Switzerland rose dramatically last year. Customs officers on the German-Swiss border said on Thursday they made a find in almost every third car they checked. READ () »

Experts challenge e-cigarettes study
Photo: Denis Charlet / AFP

Experts challenge e-cigarettes study

Two Swiss medical organisations have rejected calls to overturn the ban on sales of electronic cigarettes in Switzerland. READ () »

Bern approves solution for Erasmus students
Students intending to go on an Erasmus exchange in 2014-15 will now be able to. Photo: Jirka Matousek

Bern approves solution for Erasmus students

Following the suspension of Switzerland's participation in the Erasmus student exchange programme, on Wednesday the federal government approved plans for a 23 million franc ($26 million) interim solution. READ () »

Kerry bound for Geneva talks on Ukraine crisis
US Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva last year. Photo: Pool/AFP

Kerry bound for Geneva talks on Ukraine crisis

US Secretary of State John Kerry left on Wednesday for Geneva for high-stakes talks on Ukraine, armed with the threat of more sanctions against Moscow if diplomacy fails, as tensions on the ground escalated sharply. READ () »

Credit Suisse investment bank woes hurt profits
Credit Suisse offices in Zurich. Photo: Credit Suisse

Credit Suisse investment bank woes hurt profits

Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse said on Wednesday that its first quarter net profit took a heavy hit as its investment bank reeled from slumping trading in bonds. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Bern zoo faces animal cruelty charges over bear cub deaths
Features
Former industrial zone transforms into Zurich’s trendiest spot
Tech
Swiss Solar Impulse team shows off new fuel-free aircraft
International
Suspect in Liechtenstein bank CEO murder case 'likely dead'
Sponsored Article
Caveman comedy comes to Zurich in English
Society
Innovative building provides refuge for hypersensitive tenants
Tech
VIDEO: Teenage boy sends Swiss army knife into stratosphere
International
Switzerland ranks second in world for social progress: report
National
Pharrell Williams set to perform in first Montreux jazzfest concert
Sport
American wingsuit flyer dies after Bernese Oberland accident
Business & Money
H&M plans hefty Swiss minimum wage for employees by 2015
International
Caterpillar accused by US senator of dodging taxes through 'Swiss plan'
Advertisement:
International
Geneva man in Facebook page fight with Italian carmaker Ferrari
International
Schumacher’s wife pays for 'medical suite' at Swiss family mansion
International
Aborted Swiss airlines take-off injures four at London airport
International
Swiss refuse asylum request from topless protest group founder
Business & Money
British expat former banker to head Swiss finance regulator FINMA
National
Swiss honey contains harmful plastic: TV consumer affairs report
Business & Money
Luxury watchmaker Patek Philippe threatens Geneva exit over taxes
Business & Money
World's largest watch fair opens in Basel amid uncertain times
International
'Fergie' credits hikes around Verbier mountains for recent weight loss
Etoiles de Montagne
Sponsored Article
How to summer holiday up a Swiss mountain
Swissbenefits
Sponsored Article
How to avoid Switzerland’s tax haven trap
International
Switzerland's residents are the happiest in the OECD: report
International
Swiss voters support bid to establish lofty minimum wage: poll
National
Switzerland's largest cities set to back regulated 'cannabis clubs'
Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

2,006
jobs available