Switzerland will vote on banning tobacco advertising aimed at young people

Tobacco is big business. Its scale makes the industry a formidable foe to those who hope to spare people the damaging health effects of tobacco addiction.

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Most people start smoking when they are young, so a group in Switzerland has launched an initiative to ban tobacco advertising aimed at young people. Swiss voters will vote on the proposal on Sunday, February 13, 2022.

In practice, it is difficult to ban ads that may reach young people without banning ads for everyone. Currently, tobacco advertising is not permitted on Swiss radio and television. The initiative aims to extend the ban to print media, billboards, festivals, cinemas, shops and, more controversially, the internet. He also wants to ban tobacco sponsorship.

The Swiss government is against the idea. 101 members of the National Council, the Swiss parliament voted against, 88 for, with 7 abstentions. The proportions of votes were similar in the Council of States, the upper house of Switzerland, with 29 votes for, 14 against and one abstention. The Federal Council, the Swiss executive, considers this plan to amount to a total ban on tobacco advertising, which it says goes too far. At the same time, it is open to measures aimed at protecting young people from the dangers of tobacco.

During a parliamentary debate, the Federal Council said it was open to banning tobacco advertising in cinemas and on billboards, as is already the case in several Swiss cantons. The government hopes that the new legislation restricting tobacco advertising will be enough to satisfy the public before the vote.

In Swiss, 27% of adults smoke and even more 32% of 15-25 year olds smoke. The percentage goes from 16% at 38% between 15-17 and 24-25 years old. Addiction is an obvious feature of tobacco use. 50% of 15-25 year olds say they want to quit. This percentage goes from 34% of 15-17 year old smokers to 66% of 24-25 year olds. And the tobacco industry works hard to market its products. Nearly 57% of 24-25 year olds said they had received a tobacco-related promotional gift.

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