Switzerland second worst in Europe for tackling tobacco addiction

Switzerland second worst in Europe for tackling tobacco addiction

Switzerland has been named the second worst country in Europe at tackling tobacco addiction. The European Association of Cancer Leagues presented these findings at the sixth ICO-WHO Symposium on Tobacco Control on December 2.

Switzerland home to many tobacco firms

One of the reasons for Switzerland’s poor performance when it comes to smoking prevention and tobacco addiction has been put down to the fact that the country hosts the headquarters of many international companies that produce tobacco. British-American tobacco, Japan Tobacco International and Phillip Morris are some of the big names in the tobacco industry that are based in Switzerland. 

According to Swissinfo, these tobacco firms are known to be powerful lobbyists, often working hard to dissuade the Swiss government from increasing regulation around tobacco and smoking. Nevertheless, authorities have been able to pass some legislation to make smoking more difficult for consumers.

In 2010, the Swiss government passed a law that banned smoking in public places, including in restaurants, public spaces, offices and on public transport. A referendum held earlier in 2022 also showed increased public support for greater regulation, when the majority of voters voted to ban tobacco advertising in places where young people might see it

More work needed to tackle tobacco usage in Switzerland

Despite these developments, scientists and doctors still think more needs to be done. Compared to last year's report, Switzerland actually dropped one place in 2022, with just Bosnia and Herzegovina having a worse record than Switzerland out of the 37 countries rated in the study. 

While Switzerland shares many similarities with its European neighbours, the country has been far slower in changing its attitude towards smoking. Watson noted that Switzerland’s decision to ban tobacco ads from being shown to young people was enacted much earlier by other nations, with the same being the case for the 2010 public smoking ban. 

According to the BBC, Switzerland has 9.000 tobacco-related deaths each year, noting that treating tobacco-related illnesses places a significant burden on the Swiss healthcare system. On the flip side, tobacco firms based in Switzerland are estimated to contribute more than five billion Swiss francs to the country’s economy every year, along with 11.000 jobs.

Emily Proctor


Emily Proctor

Emily grew up in the UK before moving abroad to study International Relations and Chinese. She then obtained a Master's degree in International Security and gained an interest in journalism....

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