Voters in Switzerland have rejected a total ban on smoking in enclosed public places at a referendum.
It was not just rejected, but very soundly defeated everywhere but Geneva...
In some cantons, more than 70% of voters rejected the ban, according to Geneva newspaper La Tribune de Geneve. Geneva itself bucked the trend by supporting the ban by 52% to 48%.
Geneva already has a "comprehensive" smoking ban, so for them it was merely a case of dragging the other cantons down with them.
The Swiss Socialist party "deplored" the result...
Good to see the socialists are as keen on democracy as ever. As Longrider says...
This is what happens when you ask the proles what they want. Which is why it will never happen here. The proles, you see, don’t know what’s good for them. That’s why we need the great and the good of Westminster and the Guardian readers of Islington to decide for us.
With smokers making up a gradually decreasing minority of the population, it is interesting to see nonsmokers rejecting anti-tobacco extremism. Earlier this year, the people of California rejected Prop 29 which would have added a dollar to a pack of cigarettes. As I said at the time, the nonsmoking majority could easily have seen this as a free ride and yet they decided (wisely) that it was better to keep money in the pockets of ordinary Californians than to have it transferred to Stanton Glantz and his tobacco control cronies.
The case of Switzerland is interesting because all the cantons already have fairly extensive smoking bans while making reasonable exemptions for smokers. Nonsmoking environments are the norm and so even those who hate the smell of smoke have nothing much to gain from expelling smokers from their designated areas and cast out into the street.
This why anti-smoking advocates hate reasonable compromises. When everybody is happy, it is difficult to push people towards extremism. At one time, I remember reading a how-to guide from Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights which told campaigners that it is better to have no ban at all than it is to have a partial ban that will accommodate everybody. They know it has to be an all or nothing affair.
As a result of the referendum, Switzerland continues to follow the European path of having extensive smoking bans which provide reasonable accommodation for smokers. You would never guess this from the Independent's report, however:
Europe's 'outsiders' vote to remain one of last Western nations where you can light up
Switzerland joined Romania, the Czech Republic and Germany as one of the handful of European countries to turn down a rigorous ban on smoking in all enclosed public places yesterday after voters rejected the idea in a national referendum.
Rubbish. Just off the top of my head I can add the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Portugal, Croatia, Poland and Austria to the list of places where smokers can light up. Most of the other countries have some form of exemption, including Sweden (as the Independent concedes) and even the more rigorous laws are routinely ignored (eg. Spain, Greece, France). The total smoking ban remains a phenomenon that is largely confined to the Anglo/Protestant countries of the world.
The Independent does, however, mention an important fact which appeared in the BBC's original article yesterday morning but was later removed.
Laurent Terlinchamp, president of Geneva's association of restaurant and bar owners had criticised the proposal as extreme. "In Geneva, where the law came in two years ago, we were told that a new clientele would start to come back to establishments," he said, "But this is not the case because profits are down 10 to 30 per cent depending on the type of business involved."
It's the same story in every country. Never does it change.
Meanwhile, there is a petition doing the rounds to review Scotland's smoking ban. See the reports in the Scotsman and the Scottish Sunday Express. Click here to sign the petition.