Bern, Switzerland - Swiss citizens on Sunday voted by a significant majority against a strict ban on smoking in restaurants and bars.

The proposed ban was opposed in the majority of the country's 26 cantons, the government said. Countrywide projections showed that 66 per cent decided against the initiative launched by health service and advocacy organisations, while 34 per cent voted in favour of it.

Under the current smoking laws, restaurant owners can allow guests to light up in designated rooms or if their business is very small. Many cantons have stricter rules in place.

The initiators of the referendum had aimed for a countrywide ban on smoking in restaurants and other workplaces.

The initiative had argued that a reduction in passive smoking would improve public health.

The government and business organisations had opposed the amendment, asserting that current rules, which only came into force in 2010, were sufficient. - Sapa-dpa