Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Smoking Laws in Switzerland

Inspired by one of my new favorite Swiss expat blogs, One Big Yodel (I just love her writing...), I thought I would share my two cents about smoking laws in Switzerland.

Basically, Switzerland is one of the last places in Europe to have such loose smoking regulations. Smokers seem to be everywhere here - at the train station, in restaurants, out the front of the office, on the streets... you name it. And why? Because frankly, they can. As this public smoking map from Budget Travel shows, basically if you got it you can smoke it where you like it in CH.

Oh yes, you are seeing that correctly. Only Belarus and Turkey have smoking laws - or the lack thereof - similar to Switzerland.

Now, I appreciate that smokers have rights too, but when their rights infringe upon those of non-smokers, I have a problem.

This is exactly the reason behind upcoming changes in the smoking regulations, and the most urgent includes a vote on September 28th in which the people of Zurich will be able to vote on smoking regulations in public restaurants. So it's not a complete smoking ban a la New York City, but it is a start.

Zurich will vote on two things.
  1. Smoke free dining: Should restaurants and eating establishments be smoke free, and therefore have smoking areas for smokers - separate rooms? Yes/No ... and

  2. As an alternative, should restaurants be able to decide for themselves whether to be smoke free or not - meaning whether or not to ban smoking altogether or have smoking rooms or allow smoking. This counter was created because a lot of smaller establishments don't believe they can afford separate smoking areas, and therefore they would be forced to be smoke free or smoking establishments - thereby losing at least some customers along the way if forced to create smoking areas.
You can read more about the upcoming vote here on the Lung League, (in German): http://www.rauchfreie-restaurants.ch/website.asp

I am hoping that non-smokers will get a bit more fresh air after Sept. 28th.

What do you think? Will they vote yes for the new initiative or no?

More reading in English:


Joanna "Serowa Marzycielka" said...

Oh my... the map shows that the official situation in Switzerland is even worst that in Poland. Of course, the map doesn’t show the Polish reality where smoker don’t give a s* about the law. I have never heard that anyone was punished with a ticket for smoking on a bus station or else. The law is not respected at all.

As a non-smoker I just can’t stand the disgusting smoke of cigarettes. I truly hate it. The wife of my ex-boss smokes the whole day long and stinks awfully. She was one of the reasons why I left my job couple years ago.

I must say, I’m surprised; I thought that particularly in Switzerland people don’t tolerate smoking in public places. And what’s a public place? Well, for me it’s every place except one’s own house :)

I don’t let anyone smoke in my flat – that’s why my boyfriend’s father rarely visits us. Well, we see him almost every Sunday in his place, so our relationship are ok :)

Jessica said...

I am with you 100%. I do not like the smell of it and I feel sick sometimes when surrounded by smokers on the train platform or at work after a smoke break.

The Budget Travel article that I got the map from defines a public place as: 'museums, theaters, hospitals, schools, restaurants, bars, and shops--basically everywhere indoors other than hotel rooms and private residences. In many countries, smoking is also banned in outdoor areas like train stations, bus stops, pedestrian tunnels, and open-air sports arenas.'

I am all for banning smoking in public places... that is one of the best things about the US and Australia. They have strict smoking laws... here in Switzerland, absolutely none.

And do I think the Swiss will enforce the rules if they change... perhaps. They are quite straight and narrow here, but I have a feeling the vote won't pass on Friday anyway. :(

Don't worry though, Joanna. I think you will still enjoy your trip of a lifetime to Switzerland despite the smoke screen. :)

Bluefish said...

Denmark has changed its smoking law since May, I think. People can't no longer smoke in restaurants, cafes, bars, etc.

I'm glad that Quebec (Canadian province) has changed its law. Now it's great to breathe fresh air everywhere you want.

Swiss Miss said...

I loved that smoking map you posted. It really shows how Switzerland is still in the dark ages when it comes to smoking laws. Thanks for the call out, too!

naechstehaltestelle said...

I work in a university where the students just plop out front and smoke in a huge cluster. It's like a gigantic pile of smoke and BO threatening to take over the whole city (katamari damacy?) Anyway, I can't even get around them. I have to walk into the street because none of them will move out of the way. I just wish there a way of banning smoking in front of buildings here.

Also, have you ever noticed how young some of the smokers are? I saw a boy smoking in the neighborhood and I could have sworn he was no older than 12.

Lisbeth said...

Just stumbled across your blog today. Coincidentially we arrived in Geneva just around the same time as you in Zürich and I can't believe either that it has already been six months.

Anyway, onto the smoking topic: In the canton of Geneva smoking in restaurants and bars was banned as of the 1st of July and it has been absolutely wonderful. Actually when we went to Zürich some weekends ago, we were quite surprised to find the smokefilled bars there - until we remembered the cantonal differences...
I hope - for you and everybody else - the zürichians (??) will make the right decision on Sunday.

Anonymous said...

It's sad to see such a complete lack of understanding of the philosophy which underpinned the renaissance, the age of reason and the age of enlightenment and what distinguished this from the dark ages.

It is precisely the type of anti-smoking legislation you all seem so keen on which is a reversion to the dark ages.
Aaah well :-(


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