Federal body slams negative influence of tobacco industry

The health debate around smoking is being influenced by the tobacco sector. Keystone / Martin Ruetschi

A government-led anti-smoking body has called on lawmakers to ignore lobbying from the powerful Swiss tobacco industry that “undermines health policy objectives”. Parliament has been accused of dragging its feet over proposed new tobacco laws.

This content was published on November 15, 2019 - 09:33

The Federal Commission for Tobacco PreventionExternal link accuses three international tobacco giants, with regional headquarters in Switzerland, of manipulating the debate with their own campaigns that promise alternative solutions to smoking related health problems.

“These undermine the health policy objectives of the Federal Council [Swiss government] and exert pressure and influence on the political actors. They act skillfully, covertly and highly professionally,” the Federal Office of Public HealthExternal link body said in a statement released on ThursdayExternal link.

“Past experience with the tobacco industry has shown that it is extremely difficult to regulate an industry that is so financially powerful, but so deadly, whose legal products make its consumers dependent and thus generate high profits. Yet regulation is needed.”

Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International all have a strong presence in Switzerland.

The Tobacco Prevention Commission says lawmakers should focus on the three pillars of preventing people from starting tobacco consumption, encouraging existing smokers to quit and protecting people from passive smoking.

It condemned parliament’s refusal to ratify the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco ControlExternal link that was signed by the Swiss government in 2004.

The Commission also said that e-cigarettes, put forward by the tobacco industry as a “less harmful” alternative, should be more strictly regulated.

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