Switzerland has relatively accommodating rules regarding the advertising and sale of tobacco products. And it has correspondingly high smoking rates. That is likely to begin changing from next year, reported RTS.
This week, the Federal Council sent parliament its position on how to implement the successful vote in February 2022 to ban tobacco advertising to young people – the advertising ban was supported by 56.6% of voters.
In 2021, parliament agreed to ban tobacco advertising on public buildings, sports fields and sports events, including international events. These bans, including cinema advertising will take effect from mid 2024.
According to the Federal Council’s plan, from 2026, no tobacco advertising, including the promotion of e-cigarettes, will be allowed in print. The ban will also include all advertising in public places that can be accessed by young people. And, advertising tobacco products on the internet will only be possible if there is a system of age control that prevents minors accessing it. Similar controls are to be applied to online sales and sales via vending machines.
There are an estimated 9,500 premature deaths due to tobacco products every year in Switzerland. The cost associated with tobacco use is estimated to be CHF 3 billion year. This is largely borne by the general public – tobacco tax covers only a portion of this and is funnelled into the state pension and disability fund. No contribution is made to the related healthcare costs.
Most adult smokers pick up the habit when they are young, and advertising plays a role in many starting. In 2022, 6.9% of the population aged 11 to 15 in Switzerland had consumed a cigarette over the last 30 days.
During the consultation process, tobacco companies and some advertisers criticised the Federal Council’s position, describing it as going further than required by the referendum. Others, including health advocates, were supportive.
The ball now passes to parliament, which must find a way to turn the will of voters into law.