Third of children in Switzerland grow up with a parent who smokes

The report adds that children who grow up in households with a parent who has risky alcohol consumption is more likely to have addiction issues in adulthood. Keystone / Martin Ruetschi

Few children in Switzerland have parents who consume illegal drugs or risky levels of alcohol, according to federal statistics. However, a third of parents use nicotine products every day.

This content was published on October 20, 2020 - 12:16

A report by the Swiss Health Observatory (Obsan) published on Tuesday found that 5.8% of children under the age of 15 in Switzerland live in a family where one parent has “risky alcohol consumption”. Obsan says children in these families are at risk of developing addiction problems in adulthood.

Some 31.3% of children grow up in an environment where at least one parent consumes products containing nicotine every day, such as tobacco or electronic cigarettes. The proportion of children whose parents use illegal drugs (cannabis, cocaine, heroin) is 1.8%, which Obsan considers low. In 2011, Switzerland changed its laws on cannabis, permitting adults to buy and use cannabis with up to 1% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the active ingredient that gets smokers high.

The percentage of the Swiss population that smokes is on the decline. In 2001 it was 33%; in 2017 it was just over 27%. Among 15- to 24-year-olds the figure is nearly 32%. The share of people exposed to second-hand smoke has declined more dramatically, thanks in part to bans on smoking in public areas. Whereas 35% of the population was involuntarily exposed to smoke for at least an hour a day in 2002, by 2017 the figure was 6%.

A national law to protect people from passive smoking took effect in Switzerland in 2010. Last year, the Association of Public Transport backed a voluntary ban on smoking inside train stations – except for designated areas near entrances and on the platforms.

In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

Contributions under this article have been turned off. You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

Share this story

Change your password

Do you really want to delete your profile?