"Children and adolescents are confronted with tobacco advertising 68 times in one weekend," said Lilian Studer, an EVP national councilor from Aargau, to the media in Bern on Tuesday, referring to a recent study.
She also cited studies that she said prove the link between tobacco advertising and smoking initiation. According to the study, the risk of young people starting to smoke increases by 46 percent if they have been exposed to strong advertising. And advertisements for e-cigarettes, which are currently "in vogue," would also increase young people's use of both e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes.
"Advertising works - but so does restricting advertising," Studer said. A look at neighboring countries shows that. In England and France, for example, cigarette consumption has been declining for years, for example, since tobacco product sales outlets have been reduced, advertising banned and packaging designed in a neutral way. For this reason, Switzerland also has to "impose restrictions.
Advertising not placed with adults
The initiative, which will be voted on Feb. 13, aims to promote health protection for children and adolescents and prevent tobacco advertising from reaching them. This would protect minors from false "role models" and "ideal images" that advertising presents to them, said Christina Bachmann-Roth, president of Center Women Switzerland.
National Councilor Jörg Mäder (GLP/ZH) pointed out that adults may have a somewhat distorted perception regarding tobacco advertising. "If we think at our age that there is no advertising for tobacco products at all, we have to be aware that we are not the target group of the tobacco companies," he said. They go directly to where the children and young people are, such as social media, he said.
That's why the new Tobacco Products Act, which was drafted by Parliament as an indirect counterproposal, is not good enough, Mäder said. The law will come into force regardless of the outcome of the Feb. 13 vote on the tobacco advertising ban initiative. In the event of a Yes vote on the initiative, however, it would have to be adapted and tightened up again straight away.
The current bill would only ban advertising on billboards and in cinemas, which is already the case in many cantons, Mäder said. However, advertising must also be explicitly banned on the Internet, for example, where children and young people can spend time. The same applies to free newspapers and other print publications. There is a comprehensive ban on advertising tobacco products in print media throughout Europe, but not in Switzerland, Mäder said.
In principle, the initiative calls for a ban on tobacco advertising wherever children and young people can be reached, including at festivals, on products such as sun umbrellas or bathing balls, at kiosks or on sports fields.
Billion dollar truck
Those who do not start smoking in adolescence are therefore likely to have a lower risk of taking up smoking later in life, according to the committee. Fewer smokers would also have economic advantages, according to the committee.
"Today, smoking causes health costs of around three billion francs a year," said Hans-Peter Kohler, a member of the Bernese FDP parliament and a physician. In addition, he said, there are about two billion francs in economic costs incurred when workers are hospitalized, have chronic illnesses or have to undergo cancer treatments. The initiative would make it more difficult to get started, which should eventually reduce costs.
The initiative is spearheaded by Hans Stöckli, a member of the Bernese SP Council of States, who has been campaigning for several years for greater protection of minors from smoking. It was "easy" to win over the leaders of the medical profession, druggists, various leagues and the support of youth and sports associations, for example. Now it is necessary for the people to vote in favor of the initiative. (SDA)