Switzerland debates tobacco-style warning labels on alcohol

Switzerland debates tobacco-style warning labels on alcohol

In recent years, international companies that sell tobacco and other substances have been forced to move away from the cheery mascots of old. A combination of restrictions from the government and a change in the public mood has led to mascots and figurines being replaced with warning signs and macabre imagery on tobacco products. Now it seems wine, beer and spirits might be going the same way in Switzerland.

Campaign hopes to attach macabre imagery to alcoholic drinks

A new movement has begun in Europe that would see warning labels attached to alcoholic drinks like beer, wine and spirits. This would include warnings about alcohol's addictive qualities and the consequences of excessive consumption.

“One should talk about the fact that alcohol can be both a stimulant and an addiction,” said National Councillor and supporter of the campaign, Katharina Prelicz-Huber. She said that Switzerland has to be aggressive in informing people about the consequences of alcohol consumption.

Fringe campaign now hotly debated in Switzerland and Europe

Support organisation Addiction Swiss has joined calls to label alcohol in the same way as cigarettes. The idea, once a fringe proposal, is now being debated within the European parliament and within Switzerland. A spokesperson for the Swiss Blue Cross, Martin Bienlein, said that a warning notice would make sense, saying that consumers should be better informed about the consequences of heavy drinking. 

In response, alcohol producers in Switzerland have said that although their concern is warranted, alcohol already has a label telling consumers to “drink responsibly,” with the Swiss Brewery Association saying it “rejects shock images on labels.” National Councillor Marcel Dobler went one step further, saying it was inconsistent with a “free society.” “Everything is unhealthy in excess,” he concluded.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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