On the way to a tobacco- and nicotine-free Switzerland
The Swiss Association for Tobacco Control is the center of competence for tobacco prevention in Switzerland. As an umbrella organization for the promotion of non-smoking, it today comprises over 50 organizational members. AT Switzerland offers its members a broad network of experts and provides expertise on tobacco control and prevention. With evidence-based offers and the networking of the central actors, it is committed to a sustainably healthy and smoke-free Switzerland and at the same time offers the population a hand in quitting smoking and nicotine withdrawal.
An important field of action is the denormalization of the consumption of tobacco and nicotine products. This is because a large part of the population still regards the consumption of lethal tobacco and nicotine products as "normal". Furthermore, the protection of young people is at the center of its work and AT Switzerland would like to encourage smokers on their way to quitting smoking. Finally, AT Switzerland is very concerned to strengthen the protection of the population from passive smoke.
Only one country in Europe doing enough to stop people smoking, Switzerland Falls Short according to WHO report.
The World Health Organization (WHO) released the 9th Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, revealing that 5.6 billion people, or 71% of the world's population, are now covered by at least one policy to protect them from the dangers of tobacco. This represents a fivefold increase since 2007.
Image from Al Elmes on Unplash
In the last 15 years, since the introduction of WHO's MPOWER tobacco control measures, smoking rates have declined worldwide. Without these measures, the WHO estimates there would be 300 million additional smokers today. The 9th Global Tobacco Epidemic report, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, focuses on the vital importance of protecting the public from second-hand smoke. Nearly 40% of countries now have smoke-free indoor public spaces, helping to shield people from the detrimental health effects of second-hand smoke. Among those with significant strides made are Mauritius and the Netherlands, joining Brazil and Turkey as countries that have achieved best-practice level in all MPOWER measures.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, praised the progress, stating, “I congratulate Mauritius on becoming the first country in Africa, and the Netherlands on becoming the first in the European Union to implement the full package of WHO tobacco control policies at the highest level…More and more people are being protected from the harms of tobacco by WHO’s evidence-based best-practice policies.”
Eight countries, including Ethiopia, Iran, and New Zealand, are close to joining the leaders in tobacco control, however the report also underscores the urgent need for further action, with 44 countries still unprotected by any of WHO's MPOWER measures and 53 countries without complete smoking bans in healthcare facilities. Smoke-free environments are among the critical measures to protect people, especially as tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable death globally. Michael R. Bloomberg, WHO Global Ambassador, emphasizes the success while recognizing that "much more remains to be done."
Switzerland falls short.
Among the countries where progress still needs to be made, is Switzerland. The report highlights that Switzerland still falls short in implementing the MPOWER measures. The country has been unable to introduce an all-encompassing ban on tobacco advertisements and has not conducted a national campaign of at least three weeks' duration between 2020 and 2022. Furthermore, only up to two public places in Switzerland are completely smoke-free. There has been no significant price change to affect the affordability of cigarettes from 2012 to 2022, and the country is still lacking all appropriate characteristics for health warnings on cigarette packages.
In Switzerland the smoking rate fell in the early 2000s but has since stagnated, according to the Federal Office for Public Health; in 2017 it was 27.1%. About a fifth of the population uses tobacco daily, while 8% are occasional smokers. There are more male smokers (31%) than female (23%). AT Switzerland estimates that tobacco causes more than CHF 6 billion in societal costs in Switzerland every year (see the infographic here).
The report concludes that nations of all income levels can reduce the demand for deadly tobacco, improve public health, and save billions in healthcare and productivity costs.
Note on the report and MPOWER:
The 9th WHO Report on the global tobacco epidemic provides a detailed overview of national efforts to reduce tobacco use through the MPOWER interventions, proven strategies launched in 2008 that align with the WHO FCTC. These interventions save lives and reduce costs from averted healthcare expenditure, demonstrating a global commitment to a smoke-free future. Switzerland's lack of progress serves as a reminder of the challenges that still exist in the global fight against tobacco.
Below is the English version of the joint news release from WHO and Bloomberg Philanthropies.
The WHO news release is available here in the six official WHO languages:
The full 248 page report, including technical annexes, is available in English and can be accessed here: