Voters in the Zurich region of Switzerland have decided to keep a law that allows foreigners to end their lives at its assisted suicide facilities.
Voters were asked whether assisted suicide should be made illegal, either for Swiss nationals or foreigners.
Some 85 per cent voted against an outright ban, and 75 per cent voted against banning it for foreigners.
The result was surprising because earlier polls had indicated that a majority of Swiss people were uneasy with so-called ‘suicide tourism’.
The Zurich-based Dignitas facility has been shrouded in controversy. Last year it was investigated over allegations that it helped a mentally unstable man to kill himself.
And a former nurse at the facility says urns containing human ashes were unceremoniously dumped in Lake Zurich.
Euthanasia campaigners in the UK welcomed the result of the vote but others were saddened.
Dr Peter Saunders of Care Not Killing said: “We are disappointed that voters in Zurich appear to have followed the call of the two major political parties to support the status quo”.
He added: “an earlier poll showed that two thirds of Swiss people were concerned about suicide tourism.
“However, we are pleased that the Swiss government is still planning to revise the country’s federal laws on assisted suicide next year.”
Sarah Wootton, of pro-euthanasia group Dignity in Dying, said: “this result will come as a relief to many people in Britain who want the choice of an assisted death, should they find themselves suffering at the end of life.”
She said the group will continue to campaign for assisted suicide to be legalised in the UK.
Previous attempts to change the law have been rejected by the Westminster and Holyrood Parliaments.