September 30, 2008 / 4:09 PM / 9 years ago

Swiss high court strikes down Geneva smoking ban

GENEVA (Reuters) - Smokers in Geneva were given a reprieve on Tuesday after the top Swiss court struck down a ban on smoking in public places, in force since July 1, saying the local government had overstepped its powers.

The ban was approved by nearly 80 percent of Geneva voters last February.

But the Federal Tribunal has ruled that the local government had no legal basis to impose the ban, having failed to wait for the cantonal parliament to adopt a formal law after the referendum, the Swiss news agency ATS said.

“The Federal Court’s decision will have the effect of delaying for several months the application of a decision which Genevans have clearly taken,” Geneva’s government said in a statement about the ruling by the Lausanne-based court.

Smokers in public buildings, bars or restaurants risked a fine of up to 1,000 Swiss francs ($908), while owners of establishments risked a fine of up to 10,000 francs for violating the ban.

Voters in eight of Switzerland’s 26 cantons have approved bans on smoking in public places although not all have come into force yet. Both Zurich and Basel voted at the weekend in favor of more restrictive smoking regulations.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay

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