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09.07.2021 |News

Second-hand smoke protection: canton Valais as pioneer?

The canton of Valais extends the protection against second-hand smoke and the ban on advertising tobacco products. Four questions to Alexandre Dubuis of Promotion santé Valais regarding the new ordinance, which came into force on 1 July 2021.

Mr Dubuis, what are the most important modifications in the new regulation?

The ordinance protects the public not only from advertising for tobacco products, but also from advertising for electronic cigarettes, vaporizers and legal cannabis. (Art. 1, para. 1).

Furthermore, the ordinance puts legal cannabis and vaporisers on the same level as tobacco as far as second-hand smoke exposure is concerned. (Art. 2 al 1)

Why is this important?

Tobacco companies lure young people to their products with advertising, promotions and sponsorships. Young people are particularly susceptible to aggressive marketing, such as that found in free newspapers and at major events. Marketing plays down the dangers of nicotine addiction. However, exposure to rapidly absorbed nicotine leads to strong dependence, and the use of these new tobacco products (snus, shisha, e-cigarettes, etc.) has been shown to be a real gateway to traditional tobacco cigarettes. Under the pressure of advertising, it is not uncommon for young people to use several tobacco products at the same time. In order to better protect young people, it is necessary to prevent the advertising of highly addictive products, as the consumption of these products by young people is increasing, which we can also observe in practice in classroom interventions.

Would you describe the canton of Valais as a pioneer canton in terms of protection against second-hand smoke or the ban on advertising tobacco and nicotine products?

The canton of Valais has benefited from two recent revisions: the Trade Police Act (minimum sales age of 18 also for nicotine products) and the health law. If our canton is a de facto pioneer, it is mainly because we have taken the opportunity to create a legal framework to respond to the worrying new consumption patterns. But let's be realistic, the cantonal law protects against visible advertising, but not against that which is trending on social networks via influencers (Tik Tok, Instagram, Snapchat). Only a strong federal law could provide for such a regulation.

What other measures would be needed at national level to guarantee truly effective protection against second-hand smoke?

The same legal framework should apply nationwide to avoid differences among cantons, not only for tobacco but also for electronic cigarettes, vaporisers and legal cannabis.

Alexandre Dubuis, sociologist, is in charge of communication at Promotion santé Valais and responsible for the Addictions-CIPRET (Information Centre for the Prevention of Tobacco Use) unit and thus for the operational management of the Valais smoking prevention programme.


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