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Swiss Court Overturns Smoking Ban

Andrew Nagy
Posted: October 30, 2008

A Swiss high court ruled recently that a smoking ban imposed by local government has no legal basis, paving the way for bars and restaurants to allow customers to light up again.

According to a Reuters report, last February 80 percent of Geneva residents voted in favor of banning smoking in public places in the city. The ban has been in place since July 1.

The Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland, though, cited in the ruling that Geneva lawmakers should have waited for the cantonal parliament to adopt a formal law before establishing their own. They viewed the adoption of the smoking ban as a violation of the separation of powers.

Switzerland is broken up into 26 cantons, or states, of which the canton of Geneva is one. Municipalities such as Geneva have the power to hold referendum votes, but the law says they must wait for the cantonal parliament's approval before amending laws.

Antismoking proponents were disappointed by the court's decision, but many contend the ruling only delays the enactment of a smoking ban.

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