One in four Swiss residents smoke: report

The share of tobacco smokers remains stubbornly high in Switzerland, with one in four residents lighting up, says Addiction Switzerland (Sucht Schweiz), which is calling on politicians to take tougher action to discourage smoking.

One in four Swiss residents smoke: report
Photo: AFP

In a report released on Monday, the Lausanne-based private foundation noted that the share of the population who smoke has hardly changed for the past several years.

Tobacco use causes 9,500 premature deaths annually in Switzerland, a level that has risen slightly, while smoking has not declined in the country unlike in other nations, the report said.

Worryingly, smoking among young people between the ages of 15 and 19 has become more widespread since 2011, reaching 26.6 percent, Addiction Switzerland said.

While sales of conventional cigarettes have declined to around 10.2 billion, those for loose tobacco used for cheaper hand-rolled butts has soared, the foundation said.

Between 2011 and 2014 the percentage of users of rolled cigarettes rose to 20.4 percent from 13.9 percent among regular smokers from 2011 to 2014, its report said.

The percentage jumped to 28.2 percent from 15.1 percent for occasional users, it said.

Water pipes have become a more popular way to smoke tobacco, with use among regular smokers increasing from 1.4 percent to 3.6 percent since 2011.

Addiction Switzerland called on federal politicians to ban cigarette advertising nationally on billboards, in print media and on the Internet.

Much of the advertising is targeted to young people through social media, at music festivals and at points of sale, the report said.

“This marketing logic rests on the fact that two-thirds of current smokers began smoking daily before the age of 20.”

The federal government has been reluctant to back a general nationwide ban on tobacco advertising, although polling has shown this would be supported by 53 percent of the population, Addiction Switzerland said.

The cantons have proved to be more responsive, virtually all of them banning cigarette sales to adolescents, while 15 have introduced limits on tobacco advertising.

The report also raises concerns about alcohol and drug addictions and the need for better legislation to deal with these ongoing problems.

Altogether such addictions lead to 11,000 deaths a year in Switzerland with costs amounting to ten million francs annually, it said.

Addictions go well beyond individual responsibility and governments and businesses need to get more involved in tackling the issue, the report concluded.

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