The sale of e-cigarettes to under-18s is set to be banned in the Swiss canton of Bern after a referendum revealed a clear majority in favour.
Almost three quarters (72.9%) of eligible voters in Switzerland’s second most populous canton supported a proposed amendment to the Trade and Industry Act that would make e-cigarettes subject to the same legal requirements as conventional cigarettes.
The amendment would halt the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, which is currently unrestricted under federal regulations.
An advertising ban and protective provisions against passive smoking are also included in the proposal. Heated tobacco and herbal smoking products, such as herbal or hemp cigarettes with low THC content, are to be subject to the same requirements.
The Bernese government says the use of tobacco-alternative products has spread rapidly among young people and that the amendment is necessary to protect children and young people.
“The change in the law will help curb addictive behaviour and have a positive impact on the economy due to lower health care costs,” reads the draft bill.
The cantonal Economic, Energy and Environmental Directorate welcomed the outcome of the referendum. “The ‘yes’ to the adjustments in the area of e-cigarettes contributes significantly to the protection of health and youth,” said Bern government councillor Christoph Ammann.
He added that the canton would take “a pioneering role” on the issue.
Similar political initiatives have been also submitted in the cantons of Zurich, Basel-Landschaft, Basel-Stadt and Geneva. The canton of Valais decided in June 2018 to raise the minimum age for buying tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 16 to 18.
What This Means: A long-awaited amendment of tobacco regulations at federal level is expected to introduce a national age limit for the purchase of e-cigarettes, but in the meantime the Bern authorities have decided to proceed with their own regulations.
ECigIntelligence expects the government council to set a date within the next few months for the application of the ban on e-cig sales to minors.
– Alexander Welscher ECigIntelligence contributing writer