Srf arena on the ban of tobacco advertising: sp council of states shines

In the voting arena, SP Council of States Hans Stockli shone with mischievous charm. Federal Councillor Berset with his lukewarm arguments was not much help for the opponents of the ban.

What the watch of Council of States Hans Stockli in the 'voting arena' around the tobacco advertising ban has to do, you can read in the text

What the clock of Council of States Hans Stockli has to do in the "voting arena" around the tobacco advertising ban, you can read in the text.

What happened after the birthday of Council of States member Hans Stockli? This question occupied the guests in the "voting arena" on the tobacco advertising ban on Friday evening. In addition immediately more. SRF presenter Sandro Brotz started the evening in a completely different way. With a topic that the "Arena" has almost always revolved around for almost two years now. You guessed it: Corona.

For a few hours before the broadcast, Federal Councilor Alain Berset gave hope at a press conference in Aarau that the measures would soon come to an end. He already held out the prospect of relaxations for the coming week. And when Berset then stands in TV Studio 8 in the evening, Brotz can’t resist the question of all questions: When is the spook over?

Here, Federal Councillor Berset announces relaxations in Aarau:

Berset in Aarau: "Can discuss lifting quarantine."

The latter answers with his usual caution, but nevertheless remarkably promising: "If things go well, that could be the case very soon. It goes in the right direction. In the last two years I have never been so optimistic as today. That’s a big change."

Bundesrat had originally wanted tougher laws

This is quickly followed by a change of subject and Brotz’s questions become tougher. Berset, who as a Federal Councillor must uphold the principle of collegiality, represents the side of the initiative opponents in the "Arena. Against the interests of his party and against the interests of his own department. Brotz calls it "paradoxical" that the health minister opposes the ban on tobacco advertising.

Berset admits that smoking is undeniably harmful. But since cigarettes can be sold legally, it should also be possible to advertise them, he says. The counter-proposal to the initiative therefore goes less far, but includes important bans. "This is an important step in the right direction," he says. But not even he himself seems convinced of his meager argumentation. He also openly admits that the Federal Council had originally wanted tougher laws.

Council of States softens restrictions, Stockli echauffeiert

Not only was the Federal Council originally in favor of a more restrictive ban on tobacco advertising, but the Council of States also supported this request. Which brings us back to the question: What happened after the 12. April 2021, the day Hans Stockli celebrates his 69th birthday. Birthday celebrated?

Hans Stockli, SP member of the Council of States

Hans Stockli, SP Council of States.

The SP member of the Council of States was not only happy about the many presents, but also about the fact that the Health Committee of the Council of States spoke out in favor of more far-reaching regulations on tobacco advertising. But only two months later, the Council of States softened the planned restrictions. Stockli did not understand this about-face. Behind his standing desk, visibly upset, he demands: "It would be interesting to look into that."

The change of direction in Parliament and the Federal Council, he says, finally persuaded Stockli and his fellow campaigners to launch the initiative. This wants tobacco advertising to be banned wherever minors are reached. Say on billboards, in public transportation, in free newspapers, at festivals et cetera.

Noser says current law goes far enough

FDP Council of States colleague Ruedi Noser finds this completely unnecessary. He thinks the law already goes far enough. Cigarettes should not be sold to those under 18 and a ban on tobacco advertising targeted to youth has been in place for many years. "We have already done everything. Now we vote only on whether there will be a general ban on advertising."

Ruedi Noser, FDP Council of States

Ruedi Noser, FDP member of the Council of States.

The fact is, however, that with the current law and the Federal Council’s indirect counter-proposal, cigarette advertising would still be allowed in newspapers or on the Internet.

In the back row sits Thomas Cerny, oncologist and president of Cancer Research Switzerland. He knows what it’s like when people who have smoked all their lives die of cancer. He has already accompanied thousands of patients on their last journey, he says. "Tobacco is a highly addictive product," he says. Not comparable to any other products that are advertised on a daily basis. For him, this discussion about advertising is completely absurd. "Because I think, how much time have I spent with people who said, ‘Damn, if only I hadn’t smoked’."

Egger’s accusation: Left-Green policy is patronizing

A plexiglass screen separates the doctor from the woman, who has a valid interest in ensuring that as many people as possible in Switzerland regularly reach for a cigarette: Brenda Ponsignon is a board member of the industry association Swiss Cigarette. She thinks adults should be able to decide for themselves whether they want to consume this product. That smoking is harmful, everyone knows today, that is also written on each package. "And because the product is legal, one should also be allowed to advertise it."

Mike Egger in the 'Arena'

Mike Egger in the "Arena.

Next to her, SVP National Councilor Mike Egger nods eagerly. In contrast to the proponents of the initiative, he still trusts people to make their own decisions. Left-Green policy is patronizing and dishonest, he says. If they were really concerned about health, they would have to launch a ban on tobacco products. The example of France shows that it is useless to simply ban advertising. "There has been a complete ban on the advertising of tobacco products since 1991. But the smoking rate is higher than in Switzerland."

A comparison that moderator Brotz can’t let stand like this. Egger is mixing up two things, he rebukes. Brotz corrects: In France, the overall smoking rate is higher than in Switzerland. But according to the OECD, it has declined since the introduction of advertising bans. "This shows that the ban is effective."Egger is just able to catch himself by stating that other factors are more decisive, whether people smoke or not. Advertising has a small influence.

SP Council of States with Rolex on arm – how it becomes an issue

Stockli sees it differently. He makes an example: "Of course I didn’t buy my Rolex because of Roger Federer," he says. But constant dripping wears away the stone. A teenager faces tobacco ads 68 times in one Saturday. The risk of smoking depends massively on the advertising environment one is in.

Brotz listens to Stockli’s explanations, then interrupts him when he starts to make his next point. But the SRF presenter then pauses and asks Stockli: "Is that really a Rolex??" Which Stockli affirms and Noser answers with the question: "The SP is capable of Rolex?", acknowledges.

The Rolex example is taken up again by Yvonne Gilli, president of the FMH medical association. The advertising for Rolex is not primarily about the watch, but about Roger Federer. He says it’s the one that sticks in people’s minds. So much so that they end up associating Roger Federer with a Rolex. And the same happens with tobacco advertising to minors. Of course, cigarettes are not directly advertised. But a way of life, a cool group, something that the boys can associate with the cigarette.

Finally, Gilli clarifies, "Over half of people addicted to nicotine started smoking as teenagers. We know that advertising restrictions are effective here."

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