Major tobacco conference in Geneva - but not with Switzerland
The World Health Organization is hosting a major tobacco conference this week in Geneva – and the host country, Switzerland, will be conspicuous by its absence.
Delegates from 181 countries, the EU and NGOs will be at the WHO – but not Switzerland.
The country has not ratified the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Although it has been signed by the government – it hasn’t been confirmed by parliament.
The Convention obliges governments to strengthen anti-smoking legislation, such as plain packs and high tax. Switzerland has some of the lowest restrictions in Europe.
Some commentators suggest this is due to the power of the tobacco industry. Philip Morris, Japan Tobacco and British American Tobacco all have European headquarters in the country and employ thousands of people.
Delegates at the conference are also being urged to take a more sympathetic stance on e-cigarettes and heat not burn technology to help smokers kick the tobacco habit. Over 70 anti-tobacco groups and experts say new smoking technology has the potential to bring the smoking epidemic to a more rapid conclusion.