• Switzerland's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Swiss voters say no to tougher smoking ban

AFP · 24 Sep 2012, 08:50

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

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.

Story continues below…

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.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Foreigners in Switzerland surpass 2 million mark
International flags outside the UN in Geneva. Photo: Martial Trezzini/AFP

For the first time, there are now more than two million foreigners living in Switzerland.

Geneva runs out of permits for non-EU workers
File photo: The Local

Canton complains to the federal government after it reduced the number of permits available to third state workers.

Scorchio! Late August heat breaks record in Geneva
Lake Geneva on Thursday. Photo: The Local

The mercury in Geneva hit 33.3 degrees, a record for the final week in August.

US and Russia meet in Geneva for Syria talks
John Kerry with UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Geneva on Thursday for a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

Expert predicts major quake for Switzerland by 2040
A fireman stands in the Italian village of Amatrice, which was badly hit by this week's earthquake. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The canton of Valais is particularly at risk.

Aggressive deer put down after attacking four in Geneva
File photo: Michal Kosacky

The buck attacked four people in the same area over the course of 48 hours.

Navigation error ends badly for Basel driver

A man accidentally drove his car down a flight of steps after his passenger directed him the wrong way.

Blatter 'confident' as he faces Swiss sports court
Sepp Blatter. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Former Fifa boss Sepp Blatter is back in court on Thursday as he seeks to overturn a six-year ban from football.

Federer teams up with Nadal for new tennis tournament
Federer and Nadal at the Laver Cup launch with Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe. Photo: Alex Goodlett/Getty Images North America/AFP

The duo will play doubles together in a new competition pitting Europe against the rest of the world in a tennis team event.

Geneva advises teachers on religion in school
File photo: C Carlstead

The secular canton of Geneva has issued guidelines for teachers on how to deal with religious issues in the classroom.

Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Photo: Starship
Technology
Swiss Post trials robot parcel deliveries in Bern
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Photo: AFP
Politics
Survey: Swiss optimistic about Brexit effect
Photo: Neil Heritage/Endeavour Fund
Features
Amputee's Matterhorn trek 'makes it more possible' for others
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Photo: EPFL
International
Switzerland tops global innovation table – again
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Photo: Vasily Cotovanu
National
Asylum centre plans shelved after Swiss village protests
Photo: The Local
Politics
Neuchâtel looks to boost rights for foreigners
Photo: AFP
Sport
In pictures: final day success takes Swiss to seven medals
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Photo: AFP
National
Experts debate rail security following Swiss train attack
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
File photo: AFP
Sport
Two basejumpers die in Lauterbrunnen accidents
Photo: AFP
International
Amnesty fears for child migrants at Italian border
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
Photo: AXA Winterthur
National
Report: Geneva is Swiss capital of car theft
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Photo: Dani Pozo/AFP
National
Top tips for watching the meteor shower in Switzerland
File photo: Andrew Turner
Technology
Swiss start-up to offer drone service to farmers
Photo: Beat Strasser
National
British quadruple amputee summits Matterhorn
Photo: Judit Klein
National
Switzerland sees rise in child victims of forced marriage
Photo: Michael Schlick/OS Muhr
National
Swiss hiker in Austria rescued after sending SOS to America
Photo: Chris Murphy
Features
14 mistakes foreigners make on moving to Switzerland
Photo: AFP
Lifestyle
Swiss resort unveils huge ‘natural’ fresco on mountain
Photo: C Sonderegger/Swiss Tourism
National
Five great Swiss traditions all expats should try
Photo: AFP
National
Confirmed cases of Zika virus soar in Switzerland
Photo: eGuide Travel
National
Prison for woman who faked Swiss airport bomb threat
Photo: AFP
Technology
Swiss solar plane completes epic round-the-world trip
4,633
jobs available