Swiss Plebiscite Update

Continuing with the Swiss plebiscite which is taking place today, the following comes courtesy of Reinhold in Bavaria, and Carolus and Christoph in Switzerland.

There’s a battle taking place, right in the centre of the European continent, in a country that’s most famous for its freedom and neutrality: in Switzerland.

Because there is no freedom and neutrality any more, when the WHO strikes with its “Framework Convention on Tobacco Control”, and Switzerland has signed (even though not ratified) it, too, and so the anti-smokers regard the country as theirs and tolerate no deviation from their agenda.

Switzerland has had a partial smoking ban since 2010. It allows separate smoking rooms, and owners of pubs smaller than 80 square meters are entitled to decide if they are running a smokers’ or a non-smokers’ pub. Some cantons, however, meanwhile have been successful with plebiscites making the ban locally worse than the nationwide federal law, and there’s one organization that’s always on the spot when an aggravation of the ban is called for: the Lungenliga / Ligue Pulmonaire / Lega Polmonare (Lung League).

The Swiss Lung League is an association that cares for lung patients – and no less eagerly for the persecution of smokers. We all have such a society in our respective country – Switzerland’s ASH is the Lung League.

And as they always do, the anti-smoker organizations push harder every year trying to tighten the grip once again. So this time the Lung League (LL) brought out an Initiative called “Protection from Passive Smoking”. The Swiss people vote on it will be this Sunday, 23rd September.

On their posters, the LL demands in French and Italian “a passive smoke free Switzerland” – whereas in the German parts they proclaim “Passive smoke is harmful” instead. That’s the reason why the interview with Prof. Grieshaber (see yesterday’s post on this blog) is titled “Passive smoke causes no harm”.

For some reason (that I don’t remember exactly) they had to change their slogan to this one. Only four years ago, during their Zurich voting campaign, it still read “PASSIVE SMOKING KILLS, TOO” – written on posters showing shot people gunned down during prohibition back in the 1920s. The pictures were provided by the Californian authorities, they say. Children on their way to school were frightened to see over-sized dead bodies lying in their own blood staring from ad posters (an image of one of these posters is also shown in yesterday’s post).

That’s the LL’s way of informing people about their viewpoint on a matter of health.

If the anti-smoking Initiative is successful on Sunday (today), Switzerland will face a nationwide total smoking ban with no exceptions, just like the UK.

The pub owners fear loss and bankruptcy – rightly, as we know, but we also know that such experience can hardly be passed on from one country to another. So it could well happen that the Swiss voters have never heard of the devastating impacts of smoking bans elsewhere and believe the LL campaigners’ myths about blooming health and economy thanks to the total smoking ban.

Switzerland has even already had its own heart attack miracle: somewhere in a tiny hospital during christmas time a tremendous decline of heart attacks has been detected “scientifically”, a short time after the proclamation of the partial smoking ban in 2010.

But the Lung League has opponents.

People can inform themselves by Internet today and don’t necessarily have to believe what the WHO’s agents and the mass media continue to feed them with. So some of them already know what happened to pubs and smokers in other countries before. And there’s a committee that fights with all its strength against the Initiative: they appeal with “Vernünftig bleiben”, “Stay rational”.

Another organization, a smokers’ club circle in Basel, called “Fümoar” is fighting the anti-smokers’ Iniative, too. Basel is a city that lies where the river Rhine bends and flows northward from here instead of westward. The town has about 180,000 inhabitants – and Fümoar has about 100,000 members (“Fümoar”, by the way, is an artifical word, derived from the French word “fumoir”, which can be translated as “smoking lounge”).

And Basel is the town where the Tageswoche comes out, an extraordinary paper that’s got the courage to print the previous interview with Professor Romano Grieshaber, author of the book that was introduced some months ago here. It caused quite a stir.

Insiders say that the Swiss vote will be a close race. Let’s hope the people concerned will take part and will not stay at home. Because there’s no quorum. No matter how many people walk to the ballots, their majority decides and writes the suppressing law into the Swiss constitution – or prevents Switzerland from joining the nations that regard about a quarter or even a third of their people as second class citizens.

Also H/T Harley for this article about the Swiss vote today, suggesting that the smoking ban won’t pass:

Voters have the final say this Sunday about proposals to tighten anti-smoking laws and tax breaks for elderly home owners. Both initiatives are likely to fail, but a plan to promote musical education is set to win a majority according to opinion polls.

Supporters of stricter regulations against second-hand smoke want to outlaw smoker’s lounges with waiter service and special bars or cafes for tobacco users.

They say an estimated 10,000 people working in the restaurant sector face serious health risks because they are subjected to second-hand smoke.

The Lung League – supported by health organisations, trade unions and centre-left parties – collected enough signatures to force a national vote in a bid to impose a uniform nationwide law banning smoking in indoor working places, but allowing cantons to state exceptions.

However, the business community, centrist and rightwing parties as well as the government have come out against the initiative.

Opponents have argued that the proposed restrictions go too far, threatening the interests of the restaurant sector and interfere with the cherished federalist system giving cantons a large degree of autonomy. They say it does not make sense to amend a hard-fought compromise decided by parliament three years ago.

Currently eight of the 26 cantons, particularly in French-speaking western Switzerland, have banned smoking from restaurants and bars altogether. They only tolerate special rooms without waiter service.

The emotional campaign in the run-up to voting day was marked by allegations of deliberate misinformation by opponents of the initiative.

I hope that this more optimistic report proves correct. I might even visit Switzerland again if the antis lose. I spent a week in Zurich in about 1967.


About Frank Davis

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30 Responses to Swiss Plebiscite Update

  1. harleyrider1978 says:

    Pubs rateable values

    Due to the smoking ban being implemented on Public houses, i.e., Pubs, in 2007 the Valuation Office Agency, who rate business assessments, were initially turning down appeals on the grounds that there had been no material change in the way that the pub was used. However, following subsequent legal advice, the Valuation Office is now willing to consider appeals against rateable values by pubs on the grounds of the impact of the smoking ban.

    Should a Publican wish to appeal against their rateable value, please contact The Valuation Office Agency .—pubs

    • magnetic01 says:

      A visit to the UK in 2001 by “The Mechanic”, Stanatonitis Glands, extolling the virtues of a blanket indoor smoking ban that would supposedly be wonderful for everyone – particularly businesses.

      Activist Butts In on Londoners
      Britain: UC San Francisco professor urges city panel to adopt smoking curbs.

      Stanton Glantz, a key player in passing California’s ban on smoking in bars, workplaces and public buildings, urged London on Thursday to implement similar regulations.

      “The fact that these laws have worked so well in California means they can work anywhere in the world,” Glantz told a committee of the Greater London Assembly–the equivalent of a city council or board of supervisors. “It’s ready to happen here in London.”

      On a day when British newspaper editorials called Glantz the “arch-creep” and “high priest of the American anti-smoking movement,” members of the committee challenged Glantz at almost every turn.

      He seemed unfazed by the criticism, saying that even simply engaging in the debate shows London’s interest in restricting smoking.

      • magnetic01 says:


        “Actually, in this country we try to accommodate everyone as long as what they’re doing is legal,” said Angie Bray, a Conservative Party assembly member and smoker. She said a ban on smoking amounted to an infringement of civil liberties–something that might go over in the United States, she said, but wouldn’t work in more tolerant Britain, where about 1 in 4 smokes.

        Prompting chuckles from the audience, Glantz countered, “We have a saying in America that goes like this: Your right to swing your arm ends where my nose begins.” He argued that secondhand smoke causes severe health problems, such as cancer and heart disease.

        “I’m all for freedom and civil liberty,” Glantz said. “But people don’t have the right to poison other people.”

        Lynne Featherstone of the Liberal Democratic Party asked how far such restrictions could go. She said she had visited a beach in Carmel where smoking, eating and listening to radios were prohibited and said that amounted to a “no fun” policy.

        But at the end of the hearing, Featherstone approached Glantz with a handshake and said she had been “completely converted.”

        These figures, along with recent interest in the issue by British tobacco-control advocates, lead Glantz to believe that London is ready for a California-style ban. He said that Londoners would come to like the policy because it makes it easier for people to quit smoking and creates a more pleasant indoor environment.

        But such restrictions will only work if implemented in stages, Glantz said. He said that workplaces should be made smoke-free first, then restaurants and finally, a couple of years down the line, bars should join the ranks of smoke-free environments.

        “I’ll be very surprised if a couple years from now London hasn’t gone through with this,” he said.

        My how things changed in a short time!

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Smoking Ban Harms Bulgarian Pubs’ Profit
      The turnovers of pubs, cafes and bars across Bulgaria have fallen by 50% since the smoking in public ban was imposed

      According to the National Public Opinion Center, only three percent of the smokers in Bulgaria have given up the habit since June 1st, 2012, when smoking in public places was banned in the country.
      However, the profit of many bars, nightclubs, pubs and cafes across the country has fallen by as much as 50%, which has forced some of the owners out of business. The situation in Germany is the same, as pub-keepers there say their profit has also shrunk by half since the smoking ban was introduced. In the EU the sector reports shrinking of profits by 25% or 30% on the average.
      This became clear from an interview of Mr. Atanas Yankulov, representatives of the anti-smoking movement Free Choice, with the TV7 channel.

  2. harleyrider1978 says:

    Frank its making its way around the world!

    Passive smoking under fire when Swiss head to the polls

    Published: 23/09/2012 at 09:48 AM Online news: World
    Switzerland is deeply divided ahead of a vote Sunday on whether to beef up a ban on smoking in indoor workplaces and public spaces, with supporters stressing the health benefits of less second-hand smoke and opponents decrying a “witch-hunt.”

    Sitting on the terrace of a Geneva cafe, enjoying a smoke in the early autumn sun, court clerk Isabelle Calapez told AFP she was “totally opposed” to the expanded ban.

    “They have already banned us from smoking in public places. Soon they will even ban us from smoking in our apartments,” she said.

    And she is not alone.

    While opinion polls long showed majority support for the expanded ban, which would send several significant exceptions up in smoke, the latest survey, published last week, showed 52 percent of those questioned opposed the initiative against 41 percent in favour and seven percent undecided.

    To outsiders, the issue may seem a bit confusing: Switzerland introduced a federal ban on smoking in indoor workplaces and public spaces more than two years ago.

    However, that ban allows for a number of exceptions and has been applied unevenly in Switzerland’s 26 cantons.

    While eight cantons, including Geneva, already have a total ban on indoor smoking in places of employment, like restaurants and bars, and public spaces, like hospitals, the remaining 18 cantons apply the law less restrictively.

    “Sunday, September 23, the Swiss will vote to standardise across Switzerland what is already the norm in eight cantons: a total protection against second-hand smoke in closed environments,” Jean-Charles Rielle, a physician and a member of the committee behind the proposal, told AFP.

    The Swiss Pulmonary League launched the initiative mainly to clear up all the confusion, he said, insisting it was not opposed to outdoor smoking or smoking in private spaces.

    Supporters of the beefed-up ban also point to the health benefits of a yes vote on Sunday.

    Working an eight-hour shift in a smoke-filled establishment is equivalent to smoking between 15 and 38 cigarettes, the proposal’s supporters say, pointing to a World Health Organization study revealing that second-hand smoke kills upward of 600,000 people every year.

    “In the cantons where these laws (banning smoking rooms) are already in effect, we saw immediately … a quick 20-percent drop in hospitalisation due to cardiovascular incidents, heart attacks and these kinds of problems,” Rielle said.

    But some businesses feel “any additional attempt” to push through tougher smoking laws “is a witch-hunt, a hygienism pushed to extremes”, according to Laurent Terlinchamp, president of Geneva’s association of cafe owners, restaurateurs and hoteliers.

    “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 it’s not the case today because profits are down 10 percent to 30 percent depending on the type of business.”

    Whatever the outcome of Sunday’s vote, some smokers have found a solution to the current restrictions by joining members-only bars where there are no restrictions on lighting up.

    The idea has caught on in Basel, Zurich and also Geneva, where the newly formed Speakeasy association asks a 450 franc (375 euros) membership fee.

  3. Posted this up there Frank, but it’s “in moderation” from 10 till 6 or somesuch thing:

    Hopefully Swiss voters will have learned from experiences in other countries. Just look at the blogs and message boards of the UK to hear the stories about the devastation of their small pubs by their ban: almost a third of the small country style pubs have closed in the last five years, including ones that had survived both World Wars and years and years before. Read some the research from the U.S. at and think about it as it relates to Switzerland.

    Voters might think they’ll be “settling the issue” and won’t have to “waste time” debating it anymore if they vote for this ban: they’re wrong. As SOON as a ban like this is voted in, the Lung League will take it as a new base to launch a whole new attack on smoking outdoors on college campuses and in parks and city plazas. And when you give them THAT then they’ll turn around and launch an attack on apartment buildings and private row homes.

    They never stop. It’s what they’re paid to do. And the more successful they are, the more money they’ll get for their next campaign. You have to say, very strongly, *NO!* to them at the beginning and tell them to just go away and let people be free.

    You’ve seen what happened after their last victory in getting a partial ban. Were they happy? Did they become quiet? NO! They became worse.

    Don’t make the same mistake again.

    Michael J. McFadden,
    Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”

    Keeping my fingers crossed for them!

    – MJM

  4. nisakiman says:

    If this goes through, I wonder how it will effect some of the big hotels who have spent large amounts of money installing state-of-the-art smoking lounges:

    This is high-tech ventilation at its best, creating an environment where smokers and non-smokers can mingle without any discomfort to even the rabid anti (although I suspect they would claim the smoke was killing them anyway). In fact systems like this make a mockery of even the more outlandish claims of TCI.

    It beats me how they have managed to sustain this most obvious of lies about the ‘danger’ of SHS. People must be incredibly stupid to swallow this guff.

    I sincerely hope the Swiss people kick this proposed legislation into touch where it belongs.

  5. Margo says:

    Yes, fingers well crossed for Switzerland (may M McF’s brilliant warning be heeded), and also for the people working on a good home ventilation system. I’ve always felt that the spread of double glazing (1950s in US, I think, and 1970s in UK), with the blocking up of fireplaces – home-insulation generally – was a major influence in the development of anti-smoking hysteria. I never heard people complaining about the smell of smoke until the 70s, but in sealed-up houses smells linger.
    We needed efficient home ventilation, and we got smoking bans instead.

  6. harleyrider1978 says:

    Michael R. Fox.
    Nuclear scientist and university chemistry professor.
    – Of those chemicals present in ETS (Environmental Tobacco Smoke) only a very few can be classified as toxins or carcinogens. Some basic physics, a bit of chemistry and a series of rather simple mathematical calculations reveal that exposure to ETS is hardly a dangerous event. Indeed, the cancer risk of ETS to a non-smoker appears to be roughly equal to the risk of becoming addicted to heroin from eating poppy seed bagels.

  7. Junican says:

    Well, according to the Chris Sutter’s live report, the ban has been resoundingly defeated! Yipppee for the Swiss!
    But smokers, and especially scientists, should keep banging on about the fraud that is SHS harm. It does not exist in everyday circumstances. That lie needs pinning to every notice board and advertising board and every blog. Remember that ASH is not a scientific organisation – it is an advertising agency, pure and simple.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      That lie needs pinning to every notice board and advertising board and every blog

      Yep Gene Borio tells me I have hundreds of thousands of posts doing just that!

  8. magnetic01 says:

    Looks like the “no” vote has it by a considerable margin. Kudos to the Swiss. That’s a very valuable collective vote that goes far beyond the issue of smoking. They’ve been able to withstand the propaganda onslaught….. the barrage of fear and hate-mongering….. where many other countries have not. Important, too, is that the WHO is headquartered in Geneva.

    I notice from the comments on the “results” page that the fanatics just see the result as not sufficiently communicating their “message”: They don’t get the idea of “enough is enough”. They’ll be at it again to try another brainwashing session.

    Not being familiar with Switzerland, is Genf (and/or Tessin) the “California” of Switzerland?

    • Christoph Suter says:

      The answer is very simple

      Ticino (Tessin) = California of Switzerland

      Geneva (Genf) = Headquarter of the WHO

      • magnetic01 says:

        Thanks, Christopher :) I should have looked at a map first, and plugged “Genf” into the translator.

        From the “results” page:
        “The predicted defeat of the initiative has been hailed: The template “protection against Passivrauchen” was only popular in the canton of Geneva.”

  9. harleyrider1978 says:

    23 September 2012 Last updated at 10:30 ET

    Swiss ‘reject’ full ban on smoking in public spaces

  10. Rick S says:

    Good grief! There are already 581 comments on the BBC article about the Swiss vote, the majority of them from whingeing antismokers. There’s something a bit suspicious about how they all got on there so quickly.

  11. harleyrider1978 says:

    Frank now that the WHO has had their collective propaganda shoved down their throat at there front doorstep, Lets see what follows now! smiles………….

  12. Frank Davis says:

    I’m surprised at the speed at which the result has been found. Is all voting in Switzerland electronic or something? In Britain the results wouldn’t be available until 3 a.m. tomorrow morning.

  13. nisakiman says:

    Thank heavens for the Swiss. Mind you, having said that, I think that just about every country in Europe, had the people been given the chance to vote on it, would have voted the same way as the Swiss. But of course, TPTB knew that. That’s why we weren’t asked, but had the legislation imposed on us.

    • jaxthefirst says:

      My understanding (admittedly limited) of the Swiss system is that referendums are a regular feature of their political system – so much so that even if there isn’t a major public issue which merits one, they’ll often hold one on a not-so-hot-topic anyway, just to gauge public opinion generally. Good system – I wish they’d bring that in here, and elsewhere. As you say, I suspect that a referendum on the subject of smoking bans in most countries would have resulted in a similarly lukewarm response from the public for blanket bans.

      But in a way it isn’t surprising that the vote’s gone against the ban in Switzerland. As a country which depends on its greased-lightning-fast financial system, anything which runs the risk of damaging a whole sector of their economy would have an even greater and swifter impact on the Swiss country’s economy than perhaps anywhere else. And as one of the biggest financial centres in the world, the Swiss have to be realistic about the economic impact of anything, including wide-ranging bans like these. My guess is that they’ve had a good look at the state of finances of pretty much all the countries who have imposed blanket bans (like us), taken a look at what’s happened to their economies almost to the day that those bans were imposed, and thought to themselves: “No thanks – too much of a risk.”

  14. nisakiman says:

    Re Rick’s comment, yes, there are now 634 comments on the BBC story. It does look as if ASH has mobilised the troops in a damage limitation exercise.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      If they have it shows just how important this loss is. Since the media has been blasting it was a vote on second hand smoke against the voters.

  15. harleyrider1978 says:

    This entry is now closed for comments

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  16. Interesting. They had over a hundred comments an hour during the first five hours it seems. Has anyone read through a good batch of them to get a sense on the proportions and whether they sounded like Anti sound bites?

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