Many looking forward to smoke-free train platforms in Switzerland might be disappointed. The public transport union (UTP) announced in November 2018 that Swiss train platforms would be free of smoking from 1 June 2019 after testing the concept earlier in 2018.
However, according to a recent press release 1 June 2019 is the rollout start date. Few platforms will be smoke-free from that date.
So far only a handful of stations in German-speaking Switzerland (Berthoud, Lyssach, Hindelbank and Schönbühl) have changed their policy after creating smoking sections on platforms, according to the UTP.
Platforms at the stations of Basel, Neuchâtel and Zurich Stadelhofen remain completely smoke free until smoking sections are set up – these stations were included in the tests run last year.
Across the rest of Switzerland, train platforms are expected to become semi-smoke free between now and 1 June 2020, with 1,000 expected by October 2019, around half of all stations.
At the beginning, there will be no fines for those caught smoking outside the smoking sections. However, there will likely be plenty of reminders from non-smokers and perhaps even a few altercations – some smokers underestimate how many non-smokers quietly detest the smell of tobacco smoke. However, the new rules might just break their silence.
The decision to restrict smoking on train platforms was made to improve public health and cut the cost of cleaning up the 200 tons of cigarette butts thrown on tracks and platforms every year.
Similar to smoking sections in aircraft, there will be nothing to stop smoke drifting from smoking sections across to the rest of the platform. Mid-sized platforms will have one smoking area while long ones will have two.
Switzerland has a helpful website for those trying to quit tobacco, which extolls the benefits of giving up. These include a 50% reduction in heart attack risk and a 50% reduction in the risk of stroke, oral cancer, esophageal cancer and bladder cancer one year after quitting. After 15 years the mortality is almost the same as someone who never smoked.