Voters in Switzerland overwhelmingly rejected a referendum Sunday on banning the use of animals as test subjects.

According to a report by Swissinfo, the online outlet of the Swiss national broadcaster, at least 79% of voters rejected an initiative aimed at banning “all experimentation on animals and humans, and to stop the import of any new products developed using such testing.”

Meanwhile, only 20.9% of voters said “yes” to the ban initiative attempting to “halt tests, saying they are unethical and unnecessary.”

Commenting on the voting, Lucerne senator Andrea Gmur told the Keystone-SDA News Agency that “the Swiss people realized that a ban would have threatened the health of animals and humans.”

The report also cited Swiss People’s Party parliamentarian Martin Haab, who said: “This shows that the people were aware of the consequences for their health if the initiative had been accepted.”

Renato Werndli, a doctor from northeast Switzerland and co-chairman of the committee launching the referendum, expressed disappointment over the result.

“It’s a shame. Switzerland could have been the first country to ban animal testing,” Werndli told Swiss public radio RTS.

According to Switzerland’s Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office, nearly 556,000 animals were used for experimental purposes last year, a large majority of which were mice (346,000), birds (66,000) and rats (52,000).

Meanwhile, the country also went to the polls Sunday to vote on a referendum on the banning of the advertising of tobacco products.

Local news reports said at least 56.6% are in favor while 43.4% voted “no.”

With the results obtained in the referendum, the scope of the ban on tobacco product advertisements in Switzerland will be expanded.

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