Young smokers not deterred by ban on cigarette sales

Around 27% of the Swiss population currently smoke, according to the authors of the first systematic studies exploring young people’s attitudes toward smoking. Keystone/Martin Ruetschi

A ban on cigarette sales in Switzerland has not prevented people under the age of 21 from smoking, a new study has found.

This content was published on July 5, 2021 - 15:56

Researchers at the universities of Basel and Lausanne found that young people are not deterred by bans put in place in Switzerland over the past 15 years.

However, bans do not make smoking more attractive, a Basel University statement said on Monday. Respondents in the study said smokers are not considered “cooler” by their peers compared with before the introduction of the ban.

“The survey data shows that the sales ban has achieved no more than a minimal reduction in tobacco consumption,” the statementExternal link added.

The study is based on interviews with more than 80,000 people under the age of 21 between 2001 and 2016.

The authors of the study suggest that young adults find ways to bypass the ban as they get cigarettes from friends rather than buying them.

“Bans on cigarette sales, if they are not backed up by police enforcement measures, are unlikely to contribute to a significant reduction in smoking,” co-author Alois Stutzer is quoted as saying.

The researchers add that their findings are in contrast to similar studies about alcohol consumption among young adults.

Most of the 26 Swiss cantons introduced legislation outlawing the sale of cigarettes to under-16 or under-18-year-olds over the past 15 years.

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