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Consultation procedure

Based on the review mandate decided on 22 April 2009, the Federal Council submitted on 30 June 2010 two bills within the scope of the total revision of the Alcohol Act:

  • The Spirits Tax Act (STA) governs the collection and control of the consumption tax on spirits and ethanol for consumption purposes.
  • The Alcohol Act (AA) covers the trade and advertising regulations to be observed for alcoholic beverages, which were previously governed by various enactments.

With this solution, conflicts between fiscal and health policy objectives can be reduced in the area of spirits tax, and a more coherent regulatory policy ensured in the market for alcoholic beverages.

Aside from this innovation, the following, for instance, will be achieved within the scope of the total revision of the Alcohol Act:

  • liberalisation of the ethanol and spirits market without compromising taxes (elimination of three federal monopolies and 41 of the 43 authorisations), and
  • optimisation of the tax and control system (taxpayer reduction; decrease in or harmonisation of special provisions; transfer to risk-oriented control).

The AA unifies the trade regulations - subject to special rules for age limits (18/16) and happy hours (prohibited for spirits, limited times admissible for beer and wine). Something similar would be desirable also for advertising. Bearing in mind the parliamentary decision on the media agreement, strict rules are envisaged for spirits, and more lenient rules for beer and wine. The cantons can provide for more far-reaching measures regarding trade and local advertising restrictions. The AA will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the federal alcohol policy, allow for trade and consumption factors, and take account of the amended constitutional mandate in accordance with Art. 105 of the Federal Constitution (previously Art. 32bis).

The Swiss Alcohol Board (SAB), currently charged with the enforcement of the Alcohol Act, will experience considerable changes with these innovations, which will have corresponding implications for its organisation: Alcosuisse, the SAB's profit centre entrusted with exercising the ethanol import monopoly, should be privatised. As a result, most of the tasks that would warrant maintaining the SAB as an independent institution would no longer apply. The SAB should therefore be transferred to the central Federal Administration.

The consultation procedure concerning the total revision of the Alcohol Act ended on 31 October 2010. Over 180 written responses were sent to the Swiss Alcohol Board, representing a total of more than 1 700 pages of text.

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