The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

New initiative calls for restrictions on fireworks

  • By The Swiss Times
  • 3 November 2023

People, animals and the environment should be protected from loud fireworks and their harmful emissions. This is the aim of the committee that submitted its fireworks initiative with 137,429 signatures in Bern on Friday.

New initiative calls for restrictions on fireworks
(KEYSTONE/Michael Buholzer)

The initiative wants to restrict the sale and setting off of loud fireworks for private individuals. Pyrotechnic products that are released into the air without making noise should remain permitted. Large professional public fireworks displays at events should also continue to be permitted if they are approved on request.

The initiative is supported by the Fireworks Initiative Association, with partners including the Swiss Animal Protection STS, Vier Pfoten, the Foundation for Animals in Law and the Franz Weber Foundation. Numerous other animal welfare and environmental organizations support the initiative. Political parties are not involved.

People with a phobia of bangs

The initiative was launched by former journalist Roman Huber, who is now also on the initiative committee. He told the media in Bern that he had learned from a friend what a phobia of banging meant. Pet owners like himself do a lot to protect themselves and their pets from bangs.

As examples, Huber cited trips abroad lasting several days over August 1, long freeway journeys on New Year’s Eve or an overnight stay in a remote location. “But my thoughts are with wild animals that can’t flee from loud fireworks.”

Anyone who deliberately or negligently sets off fireworks in the vicinity of animals and frightens them could be liable to prosecution for cruelty to animals, said animal rights representative Sibel Konyo. Animals fleeing in panic could also injure themselves or even die. However, it is difficult to provide evidence.

Environmental pollution is also a concern for the initiators. Over 300 tons of particulate matter from fireworks are released into the air in Switzerland every year. “You can’t look the other way,” said Monika Wasenegger from the Fondation Franz Weber.

“Fool’s freedom with fireworks”

The signatures were collected on a voluntary basis, apart from a “safety margin” of 5,000, reported Corinne Meister from the initiative committee. Many people had expressed their delight at the initiative and wanted to help collect signatures. “The fool’s exemption for fireworks is incomprehensible.”

The initiative calls for Article 74a on fireworks to be added to the Federal Constitution. According to this, the sale and use of fireworks that produce noise should be prohibited. Upon request, the cantonal authorities may grant exceptions for events of supra-regional importance.

How exactly noise is defined is a matter for the Federal Council and parliament, the initiative committee writes on its website. There are also clear regulations on dog barking, and violations of these could be prosecuted.

Against time restrictions

According to the initiators, nobody was interested in time restrictions for fireworks. Fireworks fans do not stick to August 1st and New Year’s Eve. If fireworks and firecrackers were set off on other days, it would be difficult for the police to find the troublemakers.

New initiative calls for restrictions on fireworks
(KEYSTONE/Peter Klaunzer)

The initiators see the domestic fireworks industry as being forced to take innovative action. Losses would be compensated for by switching to firecracker-free pyrotechnic products. However, the drop in sales is likely to be disproportionate to the added value that is currently lost abroad due to many people traveling abroad around August 1st.

There was a vote on a ban on fireworks for private individuals eight years ago: In Aargau, an initiative for an extensive cantonal ban failed at the ballot box in March 2015. 64.5 percent of voters said no to the petition for a referendum launched by cantonal parliamentarians from several parties.

©Keystone/SDA

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