Switzerland joined Romania, the Czech Republic and Germany as one of the handful of European countries to reject a rigorous ban on smoking in all enclosed public places, after voters rejected the idea in a national referendum.

With returns from all 26 cantons counted, the proposal for a nationwide smoking ban was overwhelmingly rejected by 66 per cent of voters.

Otto Brandlii, a doctor and pulmonary specialist for the anti-smoking initiative, bitterly criticized the outcome, saying it would help the major tobacco companies, which have chosen to base their European headquarters in Switzerland. He said the result meant that thousands would continue to be exposed to smoke at work.

However, Joachim Eder, a liberal free Democrat politician and supporter of the “No” campaign, welcomed the result, saying that it provided a firm basis for existing laws to continue.

Only eight of Switzerland’s 26 cantons have enforced a ban on smoking in public places, including bars and restaurants, while the remaining applies smoking controls less restrictive and allow special smoking rooms known as “fumoirs” which are staffed.

The result signalled a continuation of the status quo, which left 18 cantons able to continue operating fumoirs with the remaining eight including Geneva, banning smoking in the workplace and in public spaces, including bars and restaurants.
Cigarette breaks

Japan: No national ban on smoking in public places exists in Japan, a country of nearly 30 million smokers. Some commentators have attributed this to a powerful tobacco lobby.

United States: With no federal law banning smoking in public places, individual states are left to implement the ban themselves. Currently, 10 states have no bans in place.

Africa: A number of African states, including Cameroon and Chad, have no laws at all pertaining to smoking.

Indonesia: Some 70 per cent of Indonesians over 20 years old are smokers, and 400,000 die each year from smoking-related illnesses.