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Please, protect people from smokers!

[ Edited ]
I come from a country where public transport ranks from average to terrible: France. Switzerland's public transport system is one of the best I know, but what a shameful smoking policy in the train stations !

It's become impossible for me to stand inside the train stations (even more in enclosed areas, where smoking should be banned) when waiting for my train, because of so many smokers which are not even in infraction ! Visiting Zurich's HB (one of the best railway stations I know, except for the big smoking issues) almost rimes with having an asthma crisis !

Please, Swiss authorities: do something to protect 80% of the population! Your public transport system is so successful, don't let the French beat you as regards smoking policies ! Don't let people (and especially children) suffer from this deadly poison, because such a useless pollution - and the big health troubles it causes directly - is just going to prevent me (and many others) from taking the train in your beautiful country anymore... which would be such a shame.
Solutions do exist: ban cigarette in all enclosed areas, create (closed) smoking zones as some airports have, advertise against smoking , ... you guys are so respectful of the law compared to other European countries, no doubt that if you do something then smokers will comply.


Re: Please, protect people from smokers!


Hi @Yoyo

SBB takes the issue of protecting passengers against passive smoking very seriously. We are sorry to hear of your annoyance at other people smoking in the station.

SBB prohibits smoking in areas where passengers or staff would be severely affected by the tobacco smoke. This is why smoking is banned in all the publicly accessible enclosed spaces and passageways of our stations and across the board in our shopping arcades and underground stations. Those of our customers who do smoke would find a smoking ban in places where air can circulate freely (e.g. on concourses with high ceilings or on platforms) hard to understand.

Although there are currently no plans for a blanket smoking ban in stations, SBB is keen to identify potential solutions in this regard. We are constantly looking into this issue and have, for instance, already studied the model of special smoking areas on platforms. Given the space requirements and the concentrated build-up of smoke, such areas could probably only be set up at the end of the platforms where few people tend to congregate. This would be likely to annoy smokers, especially since the ends of many platforms are exposed to the elements. In addition, as these zones would not be enclosed spaces and the surrounding area would therefore not be completely shielded from the smoke, this model would not help to solve the problem fully. If we are presented with different findings or identify an ideal solution, we will take appropriate action.

SBB has put additional measures in place since the smoking ban was introduced on its trains and in large parts of its stations. Signage has been significantly improved, additional ashtrays have been installed and our staff have been reminded to ensure that passengers do not smoke in a designated no-smoking area.

SBB Real Estate also conducted market research into smoking at stations last year and found that two-thirds of the 1,000 people surveyed (both smokers and non-smokers) are satisfied with the current situation. As things stand, therefore, we will not be making any changes to our current solution – having zones in our stations where smoking is prohibited and zones where it is permitted – which is currently largely accepted, practical and in line with legal requirements.

We hope that this information will give you a clearer understanding of the circumstances and wish you all the best.


Re: Please, protect people from smokers!


Dear DavideC,

I thank your for your answer.  Nevertheless, though very polite, this message deeply saddens me as it confirms in a somewhat official way - and as I was fearing when writing my original question - the total absence of any public will to fight correctly this public poison, imposed to the others by a minority. You seem to be calling them pudically "those of our customers who smoke" in the same way, for instance, a restaurant would say "those of our customers who eat meat", or "those of our customers drink alcohol", versus vegetarians or non-drinkers. As if smoking and non-smoking were simply two different lifestyles that should coexist peacefully in the public space, like different kinds of customers in a restaurant would do...

You seem to be forgetting that passive smoking itself kills more than 600,000 peoples, including 165,000 children, each year (this is half the number of people killed on the roads worldwide ! see,, and is proved to be one of the main causes for lung cancers and for the increasing breathing diseases (such as asthma, pneumonia, ...) that hurt mostly younger people (

Train stations are in my opinion "public areas" by excellence, in which many people (including families, pregnant women, young children, people with breathing disabilities, etc.) have to cohabit in rather tiny spaces, and in which the density of people MEANS by essence absence of any sufficiently ventilated areas.  You seem to be extremely careful towards smokers, as if your logic was that any further restrictions regarding smoking would make your company lose plenty of customers.
As if smokers were simply unable to comply to new rules that, apart from helping them reducing their addiction, would make them even more aware of the harm they can cause to others.  Please, don't tell me that someone cannot wait to go outside the station before lighting his cigarette ...  People are just people: they comply to the rules, in absence of which they just don't.

You also seem to be convinced that a vast majority of your customers is satisfied with the current situation regarding smoking in stations. This is highly misleading, as these messages (, these ones ( as well as these ones ( If I could read German better I would surely find many others), addressed directly to your company, show that it's obviously not the case !!

About the other points of your message, I'll just answer briefly:
• No, the ground floor of Zurich HB has no proper ventilation. First, It is covered by a ceiling. Second, as far as I know, and even in totally opened areas, cigarette smoke doesn't move vertically at all, and remains at human-breathing altitude for a long time (several minutes). The ceiling may be as high as you want, given the density of smokers, the ground floor of Zurich HBB is nothing different as an enclosed room filed with smoke.Reaching SBB's customer main desk situated at this floor is just another painful experience for me. But don't worry, I'll let you know as soon as I manage to walk for 2 minutes to without breathing at all !

• The Basel train station is even worse. Yes, there are some enclosed parts in which smoking is prohibited. But most public areas (including fast-foods, cafés, escalators, waiting areas, platforms), in which there is no proper ventilation, are widely open to smokers. That's a pity because, as a normal customer, I would enjoy sitting there having luch and drinking coffee, as I can normally do (like for instance in the -1 level of Zurich HB) in a breathable place. So following your economic logic: might your company lose a couple of customers (which I highly doubt) with new rules, you would get it back instantly with the many non-smokers (including me) that would just spend more time and money in your stations, instead of running through retaining their breathes !

- "additional ashtrays have been installed": do you seriously think that it changes something to the problem of passive-smoking ? I don't know about you but, if I were a smoker, seeing brand new ashtrays installed by the SBB would just confort me in thinking that I'm allowed to smoke. And in case I would have forgotten for 5 minutes that I needed this cigarette, seeing these big ashtrays would instantly remind me !

- One last: those of your customers who are highly irritated by cigarette smoke know very-well the notion of "third hand smoke", which is the smoke releaed by clothes, hair, etc. of smokers right after they smoked, and which also reacts with other components of the air to produce new ultrafine particles. So here is my question: do you want your kid to sit for two hours in a train next to someone that has just smoked on the platform ?

• Non costly solutions do exist: in Germany for instance, a small portion of each platform is designated to smokers. This requires no further constructions, but only a yellow 5 by 5 square painted on the ground! From what I saw, smokers do comply quite well. And I would add that, as a very kind person which is highly irritated by cigarette smoke, I wouldn't see any problem in moving to some area of the platform in which I'll be sure not to encounter any smokers, should this area be situated at the very end of the platform. Should it rain or not. I'm not a Gremlin nor a cat, I'm not afraid by water ! But smokers are, according to you, so we should preserve them from getting wet ...

Other solutions: The SBB could also decide to keep-on authorizing e-cigarettes in all the aforementioned areas. This solution, as far as I know, would remain totally harmless to non-smokers and would surely satisfy "those of your customers" who cannot wait a few more minutes for their hourly dose of nicotine.
Finally, in big stations such as Zurich, Basel, etc. the SBB could build some (totally) enclosed smoking areas in the most crowded places, such as the ground floor and on the main platforms. Many airports do have this solution, even the IKEA store of Zurich does have this !

I'm pretty sure that Zurich HB has more customer than any IKEA store in the world... Would it be too costly for the SBB ? In Switzerland, really ?

In some way your answer- which I take as the official position of the SBB and, by extension, of the Swiss authorities - is no big surprise given the fact that cigarette is the only one product I know whose price in Switzerland is less or equal than in France. And that cigarettes are freely sold everywhere, such as in pawn shops on university campuses...

Please have in mind that this message is by no-way meant to purely criticize a public company nor a country which are great by many aspects (and I don't know any country which does enough to protect people from passive-smoking, by the way). But things have to be said over and over in order to protect people's health as much as we're pretending we do.

Best regards,



Re: Please, protect people from smokers!

New Author

Dear Yoel and SBB,


I too, share your frustrations about second hand smoke and the prevalence of smoking at bus stops and on the trains' platforms while waiting for trains.


We were very excited to be visiting beautiful Switzerland but had no idea of the ridiculous amount of smokers EVERYWHERE as long as it was open-air.


Given the high ticket prices SBB charges, surely it would be easy for them to enforce NO SMOKING on platforms and build smoking rooms for smokers who wish to suffocate to death by their own smoke. I was taken aback by how backwards Switzerland seemed with their smoking laws given that other countries like China have already banned smoking on all public transport and there are specially designed smoking rooms to cater to these smokers.


Switzerland is a beautiful country but the amount of smokers and no laws to ban public smoking really left a dent on our trip. Incredible views but inconsiderate smokers would be puffing off, spoiling the experience for others and polluting the air. The water is clean in Switzerland but fresh air is really hard to come by.


Hopefully SBB is taking steps to rectify this and hopefully the complete ban comes sooner than 2019. 



SW from Australia


Re: Please, protect people from smokers!


As a complement of what I said - especially about the Basel station - here is a recent article about the (perhaps?) future smoking ban in stations



In which we can read the following (among others):


La Suisse est à la traîne, estime Martin Röösli, chef d'unité à l'Institut suisse de santé publique. Le chercheur a mesuré des taux alarmants de particules fines émanant des cigarettes devant et dans la gare de Bâle. "Un vendredi après-midi, nous avons mesuré ici des taux entre 100 et 200 microgrammes par m3", raconte-t-il. "C'est beaucoup plus que les valeurs limites autorisées dans l'air extérieur!" 

(Switzerland is way behind, says Martin Röösli, head of unity at the Swiss Institute of Public Health. The researcher measured alarmingly high levels of fine particles coming from cigarettes in front of and in Basel station. "One Friday afternoon, we measured here between 100 and 200 micrograms per cubic meter," he says. "It's much more than the limit values allowed in outdoor air!")

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