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What's happening with Geneva's ban on outdoor smoking?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
What's happening with Geneva's ban on outdoor smoking?
There's still a lot of smoking going on around Geneva's tram stops. Photo by Egor Myznik on Unsplash

From June 1st, 2023, smoking in certain outdoor areas in the Swiss canton of Geneva has been prohibited. But is this law really enforced?


From that date, smoking — including electronic cigarettes — is no longer permitted in certain outdoor places in the canton’s 45 municipalities, including the city of Geneva itself.

Specifically, the ‘no-smoke’ zones are located within nine metres around playgrounds, schools, outdoor swimming pools, as well as terraces of bars and restaurants.

People are also not allowed to smoke at public transport stops.

The new rule “aims to extend the protection of the population, especially young people, against smoking, by creating healthy, smoke-free outdoor environments,” the canton said.

READ ALSO: Geneva bans smoking in some outdoor areas 

Businesses and municipalities were given six months — that is, until January 1st, 2024 — to ensure there is adequate signage in place in areas concerned by the ban, to remind the public of the new law.

What is the situation, in terms of compliance with the rule?

The Tribune de Genève (TDG) newspaper conducted an investigation to find out.

It concluded that “in the city centre, smoking is still clearly visible” at bus and tram stops.

“The ‘no-smoking’ signs, however, are rare.”

When questioned by the newspaper, reactions of law-breakers ranged from not being aware of the regulation to not caring about it.

And, as one person pointed out, authorities are in no hurry to implement the rule because they have not yet removed ashtrays from public transport waiting areas, or put up any signs.

Regarding the ashtrays, “they were left as they were to allow smokers arriving at the stop to put out their cigarettes and not throw them on the ground,” said Jennifer Conti, a deputy who spearheaded the anti-smoking ban.

Regrettably, this is misunderstood by the public, and taken as permission to smoke, she added.


Why are Geneva officials dragging their feet in enforcing the law?

In short, municipalities enforce — or not — this law in disparate manner.

One of the reasons for the sporadic implementation is uncertainty about how the nine-metre ‘no smoking’ parameter should be determined, as well as delays in creating a uniform signage, according to Karine Bruchez, president of the Association of Geneva Municipalities (ACG).

To that end, “a working group was created to coordinate the signage of the ban. A unique pictogram has been developed, which will be placed at the bottom of the bus and tram shelters at each stop,” a spokesperson for the Municipal Department of Planning, Construction and Mobility, told the TDG.

What are the fines for non-compliance with the law?

So far, none.

According to officials, “the police are not instructed to fine people who violate this law at this point,” focusing instead on prevention and education.


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Mitch 2024/01/12 19:25
The "Second Hand Smoke" myth has been debunked so many times now by "real" medical science it makes the city of Geneva look, might I say "Medieval" in the true sense of the word (not architecture). It's astounding that a city that boasts CERN, the Hadron Collider and so many learned people believe such propaganda. Cancer and second hand smoke:

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