Councils wrestle over final details of new tobacco products law

The new Tobacco Products Act is on the home straight. After two rounds of consultations, the Councils have reached agreement on the key points. For the authors of the tobacco advertising ban initiative, the revision does not go far enough. Therefore, the people will have the last word.

The new legislation aims to take measures to reduce the consumption of tobacco products - whether they are smoked, heated, snorted or taken orally. The bill is expected to be cleaned up by the end of the current autumn session.

Only on a few points of the bill have the councillors not yet reached agreement. For example, the National Council wants to ban ingredients in tobacco products that increase the potential for addiction or facilitate inhalation. Representatives of the SVP, FDP and Centre parliamentary groups unsuccessfully resisted the ban on menthol cigarettes on Thursday. The Council of States has so far not wanted to hear anything about such a ban.

In addition, the Council of States wants to regulate the prohibited ingredients in the law itself. If the National Council has its way, on the other hand, the Federal Council should have the authority to decide which ingredients of tobacco products should be banned and which should not.

Finally, according to the National Council, the use of e-cigarettes should be permitted in certain zones of specialised sales outlets. The Council of States wants to delete this exception in the Federal Act on Protection from Passive Smoking.

Cantons may enact stricter rules

However, the Councils have reached agreement on another point: sales promotion should be prohibited not only for tobacco products for smoking, but also for other product categories. The National Council joined the Council of States on this point.

The difference in the decision-making authority of the cantons was also resolved. According to the parliamentary resolution, the cantons should be able to enact stricter advertising, sponsorship and sales promotion regulations than those provided for in the national law. The National Council originally wanted to delete this article from the law, but has now followed the Council of States.

Initiators dissatisfied

Regardless of how Parliament decides on the remaining differences: The people and the cantons will have the final say on the future handling of tobacco products. The newly planned restrictions on tobacco advertising do not go far enough for the authors of the popular initiative "Yes to the protection of children and young people from tobacco advertising (children and young people without tobacco advertising)". They will not be satisfied with the indirect counter-proposal.

For example, the initiators object to the fact that advertising in the press and on the internet should not be prohibited in principle in the future. The ban should only apply to press products and websites "intended for minors". The petition for a referendum, on the other hand, calls for a complete ban on tobacco advertising that reaches children or young people.

"Softener revision" versus "paternalism policy".

The discussion of the differences in the National Council partly degenerated into a renewed debate on principles. The present law does not meet the requirements for the protection of children and young people, said Flavia Wasserfallen (SP/BE). Manuela Weichelt (Greens/ZG) spoke of a "fabric softener revision".

On the other side of the Council, Andreas Glarner (SVP/AG) warned against a "paternalistic policy" in which the population would gradually be banned from everything. "The protection of minors must not be used as a pretext for a general ban on advertising legal tobacco products", Regine Sauter (FDP/ZH) also pointed out.

The Centre Group and the Green Liberals are divided. Christian Lohr (Centre/TG) pleaded for the business "to be brought to an end in such a way that we can implement it". It was a matter of strengthening the protection of minors in a targeted manner and at the same time not preventing the free activity in the economic sector. "The weighing of interests is not always easy", said Jörg Mäder (GLP/ZH). (SDA)

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