Food & Drink For Members

Will Switzerland place warning labels on alcohol?

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 21 Feb, 2022 Updated Mon 21 Feb 2022 15:38 CEST
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Does Switzerland need to place mandatory warning labels on alcohol products - and would it help? Photo by Daniel Vogel on Unsplash

Pressure is building for Swiss alcohol bottles, including spirits, wine and beer, to include warning labels like cigarettes. Would this make sense - and would it lead to behavioural change?


Within a short period of time, labels on tobacco products worldwide went from displaying logos and even cartoon-style characters to pictures of lines and death alongside capitalised warnings. 

Now, countries across the globe including Switzerland have mandated graphic labels on tobacco products, while other countries like New Zealand are considering outlawing tobacco altogether. 

Across Europe, a similar movement is gaining steam to add warning labels on alcohol products, including beer, wine and spirits. 

While it may have begun as a fringe campaign, it is now being discussed at a European Union level - and has won plenty of support in Switzerland. 

National Council member Katharina Prelicz-Huber supports an awareness campaign where consumers are informed through wider labelling on alcoholic products. 

“One should talk about the fact that alcohol can be both a stimulant and an addiction,” Prelicz-Huber told 20 Minutes. 

“You have to be aggressive in informing people.

“It would need notices like 'Caution: Excessive consumption is dangerous' or 'Caution: Can be addictive' on the labels”.

Addiction Swiss, a support organisation, has called for labelling on alcohol products to mirror that of cigarettes, warning people of everything from the likelihood of violence to the risk of cancer. 

“The fact is that mortality from high-risk alcohol use is linked to a variety of illnesses, accidents or injuries. With more than a third, alcohol-related cancer is the most important” said Monique Portner-Helfer, a spokesperson for Addiction Switzerland. 

“The cancer risk in particular is still little known among the general public. Warnings on bottles could do something.”

The Swiss Blue Cross, an NGO focused on “protecting people from being harmed by alcohol and drugs” says consumers should be informed of the risks of alcohol consumption. 

“You need to give consumers a clean slate” Martin Bienlein, a spokesperson for the group, told Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes. 

“Warning notices on the bottles, like on cigarette packs, would make sense here.”


Alcohol producers say they recognise the concern, but point to existing labels on alcohol products which encourage people to ‘drink responsibility’, saying these warnings should be sufficient. 

The Swiss Brewery Association said it “rejects shock images on labels”. 

Marcel Dobler, from the centrist FDP, criticised the idea, arguing that such labels were inconsistent with Switzerland’s “free society”. 

“Everything is unhealthy in excess,” he told 20 Minutes. 

“It's absurd what has to be written on products these days.

“I ask myself whether such excessive prevention is in the interests of our free society.”



The Local 2022/02/21 15:38

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