In February 2022, the electorate approved the popular initiative "Yes to protecting children and young people from tobacco advertising". It calls for a ban on all tobacco advertising where it reaches minors. A corresponding amendment to the Law on Tobacco Products and Electronic Cigarettes (TabPG) is necessary. The consultation period for this expired on Wednesday.
Critics of the current partial revision accuse the Federal Council and the Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA) of "overshooting the mark" in their responses to the consultation. The preliminary draft lacks any sense of proportionality and should be rejected from both a government policy and a regulatory policy perspective, according to the business umbrella organization Economiesuisse.
Harsh criticism is also coming from the advertising industry. The Federal Council is not implementing the result of the vote, but is rewriting parts of the law, according to the umbrella organization for commercial communication in Switzerland (KS/CS Kommunikation Schweiz). This is incomprehensible and is rejected.
For KS/CS Kommunikation Schweiz, APG/SGA, which is active in outdoor advertising, the Swiss Outdoor Advertising Association (AWS), Swiss Tabacco and Swiss Cigarette, this is a total advertising ban that contradicts the freedom of trade and industry enshrined in the constitution.
"In effect, a total ban on smoking".
The obligation to report advertising expenditure, sales promotion and sponsoring by manufacturers and importers to the state authorities, which was included in the preliminary draft, also disregards the decisions of parliament in this regard, is irrelevant and incomprehensible. It is neither the subject of the popular initiative nor does it contribute to the protection of minors, state the Association of the Swiss Tobacco Trade (Swiss Tabacco), the Swiss Cigarette Association and Economiesuisse.
For the SVP and the center, the planned obligation to report is also "incomprehensible". This was never the subject of the initiative and proposals to this effect were rejected in parliament. The SVP criticizes that the FDHA is trying to "enforce a de facto total ban on smoking.
The center supports "in principle the thrust of the proposal". However, the question arises as to whether an absolute ban on advertising is really necessary in order to achieve the goal of the popular initiative, especially since the initiators did not call for an absolute ban in the area of print media in their implementation proposal.
Ratification of the WHO agreement draws closer
The SP and the Greens, on the other hand, say that the implementation of the new constitutional provisions is in line with the intention of the electorate and will result in a very far-reaching, but not an absolute ban on the advertising of tobacco products. The proposed measures are expressly welcomed. They do not go too far, even by international standards.
The preliminary draft of the partial revision would largely meet the demands of the popular initiative, write the professional association Addiction, Public Health Switzerland and the Working Group Tobacco Prevention Switzerland.
These organizations and the Greens expressly welcome the additional proposal to levy the expenditure on tobacco and nicotine advertising. With this and with the implementation of the popular initiative, the ratification of the corresponding WHO Framework Convention would come within reach for Switzerland. The federal government and the cantons would also have to actively carry out controls and the amount of the fines should be based on the size of the billion-dollar tobacco companies.
The board of the Conference of Cantonal Health Directors (GDK) is also satisfied. The advertising restrictions demanded by the initiative and now proposed in the draft law are an effective and inexpensive measure to prevent people from taking up tobacco consumption. In the longer term, they would contribute to reducing tobacco consumption and secondary diseases.
Lack of health promotion
The Foundation for Consumer Protection considers the popular initiative to have been adequately implemented in most respects. The Foundation for Consumer Protection, Public Health Switzerland, the GDK, the SP and the Greens regret that no provision has been included in the present draft to promote the health of children and adolescents. In the opinion of the GDK, the problem of the sale of tobacco and nicotine products to minors via online trade is also insufficiently regulated.
The entry into force of the new Tobacco Products Act and Ordinance by the Federal Council is scheduled for early 2024. (sda)