First smoking zones set up in Swiss train stations

Soon as rare a sight at stations as a late Swiss train? Keystone

The clouds of cigarette smoke at Swiss train stations are slowly lifting. Or at least being relocated. On Tuesday four stations were equipped with designated smoking zones. 

This content was published on June 4, 2019 - 14:14

The plan is for almost 1,000 stations to be converted by the end of October and all stations across the country by mid-2020. 

Despite ashtrays on platforms, two-thirds of cigarette butts still land on the tracks, the Public Transport Union said on TuesdayExternal link. That’s 550 kilograms a day or 200 tonnes a year. The smoking zones should help to reduce this pollution and make the air and atmosphere in stations more pleasant for passengers, it added. 

Smoking will be allowed only in marked areas on platforms and in front of stations. Two smoking zones per platform are planned for large stations with long platforms. Mid-sized stations will have one on the platform, and small stations will have smoking areas at the entrances. 

The transport union had rejected a total smoking ban in stations because it “didn’t want to upset anyone”. The goal was maximum customer satisfaction, it said.  

However, for the time being there is no legal framework for fining smokers who don’t stick to the zones. The project is based on “the entrepreneurial freedom of transport companies, not on a legal mandate”, the transport union said. 

Transport companies are only “encouraged” to implement the scheme, it added. 

The first stations to have smoking zones are Burgdorf, Lyssach, Hindelbank and Schönbühl, all in canton Bern.

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