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SMOKING

Swiss set to vote on proposed smoking ban

Voters across Switzerland will decide next month on a national initiative to protect people from second-hand smoke from cigarettes.

Swiss set to vote on proposed smoking ban
Photo: Ta Duc (File)

The initiative aims to ban smoking in all enclosed public places, including bars, restaurants, hospitals and workplaces.

The proposal will be put to a vote on September 23rd.

Under the initiative, smoking rooms or “fumoirs” would be permitted but only provided no-one, such as a waiter, works in them.

Exceptions would also be made for private rooms and individual workspaces as long as other people are not required to use these spaces.

Such legislation already exists in eight Swiss cantons.

Defenders of the proposed law for protection against “passive smoking” gathered more than 116,000 signatures back in May 2010 to put the initiative to a vote.

However, a majority of politicians in the upper and lower houses of parliament are opposed to such legislation.

Daniel Fässler, an MP from the canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden, said that imposing such a national rule on smoking would be contrary to the country’s spirit of federalism that grants cantons powers to make their own laws in such areas.

Other politicians have raised concerns about the impact such a national law would have on the restaurant and hotel industry.

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SMOKING

No smoking? Swiss canton cracks down on employee cigarette breaks

From February 1st, 2020, government workers in the Swiss canton of Ticino will be required to punch a clock every time they want to have a cigarette.

No smoking? Swiss canton cracks down on employee cigarette breaks
Photo: Depositphotos

The move has been justified as a way of improving employee productivity, with proponents of the new law arguing that too much time is being lost to frequent employee cigarette breaks. 

Advocates also argue that non-smokers are penalised under the current system. 

Under the current law, employees are entitled to two 15-minute breaks per day. While employees will not need to punch the clock if they smoke during this time, all smoking outside these two break periods will be measured. 

The law will also see ashtrays removed from outside government buildings. 

The law will initially apply to the cantonal and governmental parliament buildings, but is set to be expanded to other government buildings throughout the canton in future. 

Fabio Badasci, from the Ticino League, said that the move was justified not only due to productivity concerns – but was needed in order to be fair to all workers. 

Badasci told Swiss news site Le Temps “continuous absences from work for smoking represent unequal treatment between smokers and non-smokers – and (result in) a loss of productivity”. 

Smoking has been forbidden in enclosed areas in Switzerland since 2010, although the country is still considered to be one of the most ‘smoke friendly’ in Europe. 

Swiss train stations only went smoke free in 2019, with the installation of airport-style smoking areas on many platforms. 

READ: Swiss train stations go 'smoke free' in 2019

An estimated 27 percent of Swiss residents smoke. 

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