Level of use

  • In 2016, daily smokers smoked an average of 13.6 cigarettes per day, while occasional smokers smoked 1.2 cigarettes.
  • Daily and occasional smokers taken together, the average number of cigarettes smoked per day varied as a function of different demographic and socioeconomic characteristics.

At the individual level, another essential element in smoking behaviour and its related consequences derives from the intensity of tobacco use. This can be seen as a combination of two distinct dimensions, one being temporal (e.g. number of years of smoking), the other quantitative (e.g. number of cigarettes smoked). The level of use, which is thus directly correlated with the risk of smoking-related health problems[1] – see also our page Health risks – is therefore another key indicator in the epidemiological description of tobacco use.

Average number of cigarettes smoked and proportion of heavy smokers

Based on the data collected for the Monitorage suisse des addictions in 2016, a daily smoker smoked an average of 13.6 cigarettes per day, and an occasional smoker 1.2 cigarettes (Gmel et al., 2017[2]). The Swiss health survey (ESS, Enquête suisse sur la santé), on the other hand, published estimations for all smokers combined. It showed that in 2017, smokers were using 9.5 cigarettes per day on average (OBSAN, 2021[3]) and that a little more than a fifth – 21% – of smokers were smoking at least 20 cigarettes per day (OFS, 2020[4]). Out of the total Swiss population 15 year and over, this proportion was 6%. It was 8% and 4% respectively if men and women are considered separately. The proportion of heavy smokers – who smoke at least 20 cigarettes per day – increases regularly for men with age, reaching 35.6% for men from 55 to 64 years old (Figure A1A-8). For women, the proportion seems to increase in a stepwise fashion, with less than 10% for women smokers under 35 and around 20% for those ages 35 to 74 years old.

Figure A1A-8 – Number of cigarettes smoker per day by smokers 15 and over, ESS 2017 (Source OFS, 2020[5]).

The number of cigarettes smoked per day also serves as one of the indicators in the system of the Monitorage Addiction et MNT (MonAM) of the Federal office of Public Health (FOPH). Detailed data are thus available, though still for daily and occasional smokers taken together, on the MonAM website (OBSAN, 2021[6]). There it is possible to see that daily consumption of cigarettes is 8.5 for women and 10.4 for men, yielding a combined average of 9.5 cigarettes daily. These averages have visibly and regularly declined since the ESS study began in 1992. At that time, they were 13.0 for women and 16.9 for men (15.3 cigarettes daily for both groups combined). The detailed analyses performed for the MonAM also show that the level of use is not uniform within the Swiss population. In 2017, significant variability appeared not only as a function of age and gender, as described above, but also between certain cantons, and as a function of educational level (the average level of daily use being higher for those with the lowest educational levels). Other revelatory and statistically significant differences were also observed, such as those between men of different nationalities: Swiss smokers smoked an average of 9.9 cigarettes per day as opposed to 11.3 for other nationalities. (However, it should be noted that this figure must be considered suggestive, and is in no way generalisable to all ethnic groups residing in Switzerland; comparable and detailed data regarding the extent of tobacco use in various migrant communities are clearly unavailable).

[1] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2014). The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health. Download.

[2] Gmel, Gerhard ; Kuendig, Hervé ; Notari, Luca (2017) : Monitorage suisse des addictions Consommation d’alcool, de tabac et de drogues illégales en Suisse en 2016. Sucht Schweiz. Lausanne. Download.

[3] https://ind.obsan.admin.ch/fr/indicator/monam/tabac-nombre-de-cigarettes-fumees-par-jour-age-15; accessed 28.12.2021.

[4] OFS (2020) : Actualité OFS - Enquête suisse sur la santé 2017 – Consommation de tabac en suisse. OFS. Neuchâtel. Download.

[5] OFS (2020) : Actualité OFS - Enquête suisse sur la santé 2017 – Consommation de tabac en suisse. OFS. Neuchâtel. Download.

[6] https://ind.obsan.admin.ch/fr/indicator/monam/tabac-nombre-de-cigarettes-fumees-par-jour-age-15; accessed 28.12.2021.

AT Switzerland, September 2022