The hotel and restaurant federation GastroSuisse claims a new survey backs its position against a total ban on smoking in Swiss restaurants.This content was published on June 4, 2006 - 20:59
Federation director Florian Hew said in an interview on Sunday that customers did not support a total ban but were in favour of separate smoking and non-smoking zones.
In the newspaper Le Matin dimanche, Hew said that a survey of 500 people commissioned by Basel hoteliers and restaurateurs had shown that 41.1 per cent wanted a smoking ban, 42.5 per cent were against and 16 per cent did not know.
He added that health fanatics were only too eager to promote the idea that the Swiss were "massively" against smoking in restaurants and cafés.
Cantonal presidents of the federation last week opposed legislation on the issue at the cantonal level. If a law were inevitable, it would have to be at the national level, they argued.
"To make it perfectly clear, we defend freedom for our members to make up their own minds on their policy about smoking," Hew said.
He commented that it was clear that the Swiss wanted better protection against passive smoking.
"According to our surveys 77 per cent would like restaurants to introduce a well-protected non-smoking area. We have to move in this direction."
Hew said the federation was therefore asking its members to create non-smoking zones as soon as possible "but only if the market or customers demand them, not the media".
He added that with one establishment for every 230 inhabitants in Switzerland the freedom of choice was "immense".
"No one is forced to go into this or that restaurant. With such an economic reality, every restaurateur should be free to choose his own concept. That's the free market."
Smoking is now banned from restaurants belonging to Switzerland's largest retailer Migros as well as those of the Manor group.
But Coop, which is the number two retailer, has said it has no intention of following the movement for the time being.
" There is no decision on the horizon at the moment but the issue crops up regularly," commented Coop spokesman Karl Weisskopf.
He added that Coop was trying hard to improve ventilation in its restaurants, which now had two-thirds of space designated "non-smoking".
swissinfo with agencies
64% of Swiss are in favour of banning smoking in public places.
67% are calling for a limit on tobacco publicity.
90% support a ban on selling cigarettes to young people.
A third of the Swiss population smokes. 36% of men smoke as well as 26% of women.
The protection of non-smokers in the workplace was introduced into legislation in 1992.
Several cantons have decided to limit smoking in public places and the amount of space used for the publicity of tobacco.
Ticino has been a pioneer on the smoking issue. In March, the canton's voters accepted a ban on smoking in public buildings.
Smoking has been banned in the trains of the Swiss Federal Railways since last December.
At the national level, parliamentarians are due to debate a proposition which would limit smokers' rights in order to protect other people from smoke.
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