Addiction Switzerland wants more protection for young people from tobacco products

Addiction Switzerland is concerned about nicotine consumption by young people and is calling for more protection for young people from politicians. E-cigarettes in particular are becoming more popular among 15-year-olds.

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Of the 15-year-olds in 2022, around one in three had used at least one tobacco or nicotine product within a month, Sucht Schweiz wrote on the study results published on Monday.

E-cigarette more popular with girls

7 percent of 15-year-old boys and 6 percent of girls smoked cigarettes more frequently, on at least ten of the 30 days prior to the survey. Cigarette consumption was thus about the same as in 2018. 13-year-olds were even less likely to reach for cigarettes. But 6 percent of them smoked at least once a month.

Meanwhile, e-cigarettes, such as puff bars and imitation products, were increasingly circulating among young people. 7 percent of 15-year-old boys and 8 percent of girls used such a product on at least ten days within a month. Compared to 2018, girls in particular used e-cigarettes more frequently.

Two other nicotine products also spread among 15-year-olds: Tobacco heaters and the oral tobacco snus, with 4 percent of boys and 3 percent of girls using a tobacco heater at least once in a 30-day period. That was three times as many as in 2018, according to the study.

Politics is called for

About one in eight 15-year-old boys consumed snus at least once in a 30-day period, twice as many as in 2018. Snus was less popular among 15-year-old girls, but the proportion of female users increased from one to 6 percent in four years.

Addiction Switzerland demands that politicians take measures to keep young people away from e-cigarettes and snus. For these products, there are neither effective advertising restrictions nor a minimum dispensing age. Measures are needed in terms of access, advertising, price, packaging and flavors, writes Addiction Switzerland.

This is more than the future Tobacco Products Act provides for. The law needs to be adapted following the "Yes to protecting children and young people from tobacco advertising" popular initiative a good year ago. However, the Federal Council's proposals were controversial in the consultation process, which ended in November 2022.

According to the survey, more young people have access to conventional cigarettes through their environment than buy them themselves. Curiosity" was the most frequently cited reason for taking up e-cigarettes. Only a minority wanted to use e-cigarettes to replace conventional cigarettes or to quit smoking with their help.

Dangerous mix

The 2022 survey also found that four percent of 15-year-olds have taken a drug to get high at least once. That is a similar number to four years earlier. The proportion is higher among girls than among boys.

5 percent of 15-year-old adolescents and 9% of girls of the same age have mixed medication with alcohol at least once in their lives - this is considered particularly dangerous, according to Sucht Schweiz. Mixed drinks with cough syrup have been consumed by 6 percent of boys and 2 percent of girls.

In terms of alcohol consumption, the figures remained roughly at the same level as in 2018: 43 percent of all 15-year-olds had drunk alcohol at least once in the 30 days prior to the survey. Around one in four had consumed at least five or more alcoholic beverages on one occasion within 30 days.

School classes surveyed

Cannabis use also remained at 2018 levels, with 12 percent of 15-year-old boys and 8 percent of girls in this age group using illicit cannabis at least once in the month prior to the survey.

The nationally representative survey of young people has been conducted every four years since 1986. In Switzerland, around three quarters of 857 randomly selected school classes took part in the survey. Around 9300 young people aged 11 to 15 provided information. (SDA)

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