A pilot programme designed to tackle the problem of alcohol abuse in Switzerland at a local level was launched this month.
The programme, dubbed "Handle With Care", was launched by the Foundation for Health Promotion (Radix) in a bid to encourage local authorities to take more responsibility and initiative in fighting alcohol abuse.
Stefan Spring, coordinator of the Handle With Care project, told swissinfo Switzerland's network of local communities could do more to ensure under-age drinkers are not able to purchase alcohol.
Spring cites the example of locally-organised "pub festivals", which take place at different times throughout the year in a number of Swiss towns and villages.
"This kind of festival usually takes place in a hall or in a tent. And at events of this kind usually nothing is really being done except for drinking," Spring said.
"Often on these occasions people sell alcohol without knowing anything about the laws governing its sale or consumption," he added.
Swiss supermarkets and stores which are licensed to sell alcohol are required to display signs stating that beer cannot be purchased by anyone under 16 years of age.
Swiss law also prohibits the sale of alcoholic spirits to anyone under the age of 18.
"We run regular courses which are designed to clear up any misunderstanding people may have about the sale of alcohol," Spring says.
The objective of the Handle With Care project, which will run on a pilot basis through 2002, is to encourage local communities in Switzerland to adopt an "innovative alcohol policy".
Project organisers say local authorities will be supported by Radix in setting up local prevention campaigns.
Twenty local communities will be targeted during the pilot phase, after which the results of the project will be passed on to the Federal Health Office for analysis and eventual publication.
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