New campaign makes not smoking the 'norm'
The Swiss federal government launched a new anti-smoking campaign on Monday to tackle a habit that remains Switzerland’s principal cause of premature death and costs the government five billion francs a year.
The Smoke Free campaign aims to highlight the positive aspects of a non-smoking life and establish non-smoking as “a social norm”, according to press material.
Under the slogan “I am stronger”, the campaign will comprise a series of posters and humorous videos showing how smoking can reduce fitness and cause premature aging.
The three-year campaign, which is costing the Federal Office of Public Health (BAG) nine million francs, is deemed necessary despite the fact that the number of smokers in Switzerland has dropped considerably over the past decade.
Between 2001 and 2013 the percentage of the population who smoke fell from 33 percent to 25 percent, meaning there are 1,730,000 smokers in Switzerland today.
That figure is still too high, BAG director Pascal Strupler told press.
The aim is to reduce it further to 23 percent by 2016, he said.
Five years ago a campaign to reduce passive smoking including in a ban on smoking in enclosed public places was hugely successful, reducing the percentage of passive smokers from 33 percent to six percent between 2002 and 2013.
Nevertheless, 9,000 people die each year from the effects of smoking, said Strupler.
The new campaign has two main aims: to offer support to the 60 percent of smokers who wish to stop, and to prevent others – especially young people – from taking up the habit.
Currently around half of smokers say they started smoking when they were under 18 years old.
This autumn a bill will be put to parliament proposing a ban on the sale of cigarettes to minors and restrictions on advertising to young people.
The Smoke Free campaign is a collaboration between BAG, the cantons and several NGOs and anti-smoking groups in the country.