Swiss politicians debate a New Zealand style tobacco ban
New Zealand has permanently banned people born in 2008 or later from smoking. Now, Swiss politicians are debating following their lead. Currently, Switzerland has twice as many smokers per head of population than New Zealand, and experts are sceptical that a similar system could be created.
Tobacco ban would make little sense in Switzerland
New Zealand's new “Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan” sees tobacco banned for those born in 2008 or later, starting a gradual process that will probably see cigarettes eliminated by the end of the century. The government of New Zealand says that in four years, fewer than 5 percent of the population will consider themselves smokers.
In Switzerland, the situation is far more complicated. Luciano Ruggia, Director of the Swiss Association for Smoking Prevention, said that the two countries are at very different points when it comes to banning tobacco and that it made "no sense" to impose similar rules. He said, "While 27 percent of the population in Switzerland smoke, it is only 13,5 percent in New Zealand." He noted that New Zealand has made far greater progress towards making cigarettes harder to obtain, such as increasing prices.
Some tobacco advertising still allowed in Switzerland
Unlike other European nations, Switzerland still allows some forms of tobacco advertising, for instance allowing cigarette ads on billboards until very recently. Instead of a gradual ban on cigarettes altogether, Ruggia called for a ban on advertising nicotine products in Switzerland.
Member of the Council of States, Hans Stöckli, described the measures in New Zealand as “drastic” and said, "In our country, people rely on personal responsibility, even though tobacco is responsible for more than half of addiction-related health costs." He committed to ensuring children do not start smoking, as studies have found that people who haven’t tried smoking before 21 are less likely to develop a habit.
Instead of an outright ban, Stöckli advocated for the “Children without Tobacco” initiative - a referendum on the banning of tobacco advertising in cinemas, kiosks and in public areas - that will be voted on in February 2022. Member of the Council of States, Damian Müller, agreed that a ban was not the answer, saying, "Making a product illegal can be counterproductive, especially with young people."