During 2006 will the ban on smoking in public places continue to gain support throughout Switzerland?

As the celebrations took place to welcome in the New Year of 2006, many people made New Year resolutions.  Promising ourselves that we will: join a gym, lose weight, get a new job, manage our money more efficiently, etc…Maybe the most difficult resolution is to stop smoking.  Nicotine is highly addictive.

Many European countries have laws that ban or partially ban smoking in public places.  Some countries have legislation to protect non-smokers’ rights.  The legislation obliges employers to provide a safe working environment and it is argued that forcing employees to work in smoky workplaces constitutes a workplace health hazard.

With effect from 01Jan06, Spain became the latest European country to ban smokers from enclosed public places.  Scotland will be the first part of the U.K. to ban smoking in all enclosed public places w.e.f.  25Mar06.  The Republic of Ireland was the first country in the northern hemisphere to ban smoking in work places and enclosed public places w.e.f.  29Mar04.

Will such radical legislation be introduced throughout Switzerland?  Changes have been implemented throughout 2005 but one feels it may be a slow process.  Smoke-free public transport was introduced with effect from 11Dec05.  It will be some six months before the final ashtray has been removed from the old smoking compartments.
The website: www.sbb.ch/en  states: -
“The trend towards smoke free public transport is part of a social development.
Passive smoking is no longer played down as a minor problem.
The need for smoke free air is now rated as more important than the need of smokers.”

During 2005, Letzipark (Einkaufszentrum in Zürich: www.Letzipark.ch) attempted to introduce a “Rauchfrei” environment but has yet not been successful.  The free daily newspaper in Zürich, 20minuten, reported (in Feb05) that the article on smokeless shopping centres released angry reactions.  The regular customers sitting in the cafeteria areas cannot be stopped.  More details can be found on the website: www.20min.ch

Will the Rauchfrei campaign in Letzipark eventually be successful?

Cigarette advertising, in Switzerland, is still permitted in the cinemas.  In 2005, a young sales representative was running a cigarette promotional campaign in a kiosk in Letzipark.  Smoking is still allowed in some offices, although restricted to small areas.

In the City of London, one can still see small groups of smokers standing outside, but not usually allowed now, to stand directly in front of the entrance of the office buildings. 
Employers throughout the U.K. are becoming more stringent e.g. in December 2005 one woman was sacked because she smoked.  She promised only to smoke during her lunch break and outside the building.  Management at Dataflow Communications in Wells, Somerset said, “If someone is found to smoke, even in their own time, they will not work for the company.  Legally we entitled to do this.  It’s positive discrimination, and we are proud of it.”  The woman in question was initially employed through an employment agency that made a mistake.

Some restaurants in Switzerland impose no restrictions on smoking
e.g. Crazy Cow, in Zürich.  On Saturday 21 January 2006, I was surprised to see people openly smoking, as this is a restaurant that does attract families.  The children have no choice, the adults do.  There are some websites that may help you find restaurants that are cigarette smoke free e.g.

In 24Sep03, Kelly Rowland expressed alarm during her concert at the amount of people smoking in the Volkshaus, Zürich.  Officials had to personally request members of the audience to put out their cigarettes, which was met with some reluctance.

According to the website: www.cancerreasearchuk.org
“Smoking is the biggest single cause of cancer in the world.
Smoking rates are highest in young adults.”

If there is no such thing as a safe cigarette, why do so many young adults start to smoke?  Is it youthful arrogance that installs the mindset of,
 “It will never happen to me”?  
Is it used as an aid to weight loss?
Pictures of Kate Moss, a slim model, smoking, are shown in the media and may add pressure to vulnerable young women.
A habit that makes your breath & clothes smell, does not match the requirements of an image conscious typical teenager.  Is it due to lack of education?  There have been many campaigns showing the devastating health affects of smoking and there are health warnings on packets of cigarettes.

Wednesday 8 March 2006 is No Smoking Day in the U.K.  NSD is organised by a charity that is funded by a coalition of government and voluntary sector organisations.
31 May 2006 is World No Tobacco Day (www.who.int/tobacco/en). 

I am of an age where I can remember when smoking was allowed openly in offices, on aeroplanes and in cinemas.  The London Underground banned smoking throughout the network w.e.f.  23 November 1987, following the tragic fire at King’s Cross.  Celebrities smoked during T.V. interviews and even the late Princess Margaret continued to smoke in public, after having an operation on her lung.  This caused much angst to her sister Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the rest of the British Royal Family.
Colin Farrell, is one young film star, who still does not hide his smoking habit whilst arriving at media events.  The recently released film, Good night and Good luck, highlights the high percentage of people who smoked, in broadcast journalism in the 1950s.
If anyone has seen the classic British TV comedy, Yes Prime Minister, on 
BBC Prime, it can be seen how dramatically attitudes to smoking have changed within society.  Who can forget screen legends such as Humphrey Bogart, smoking heavily, in films such as Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon?

Alarmingly the current attitude, for many, towards alcohol and drugs e.g. cocaine, is similar to the attitude that used to be in place towards cigarettes.  The binge-drinking problem that is taking place throughout the U.K. and typically in holiday hotspots as Magaluf, San Antonio, and Ayia Napa etc. highlights the seemingly fashionable naïve decision, to ignore, how an irresponsible attitude to alcohol will result in long-term serious health problems.

The cost of 20 cigarettes in Switzerland is approx CHF6.50 whereas in the U.K. the cost is approx stg£6.00 (CHF13.00).  The physical cost is immeasurable and irreversible.

© Theresa Avery : January 2006


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