The remit of the Swiss Alcohol Board (SAB) does not cover prevention in the stricter sense of the word. The primary role of the SAB, which is responsible for regulating trade and advertising, concerns the structural aspect of prevention, i.e. checking and improving compliance with the applicable legal provisions.
Measures to restrict availability should control access to alcoholic beverages and influence supply. The tools available under the SAB's remit include alcohol duties, the monitoring of production and trade, and advertising and drinking age restrictions.
Protection of young people
The key focus of the SAB's structural prevention work is on the protection of minors.
Young people react in a highly sensitive manner to alcohol. Early, excessive and frequent consumption of alcohol among 14 and 15-year-olds increases the risk not only of alcohol dependence in adulthood, but also of psychological instability, a lower level of education and a higher tendency towards delinquency. Excessive amounts of alcohol can even cause irreversible damage to the development of the brain.
Spirits such as vodka, which are popular particularly among young people, became cheaper
when the standard tax rate was introduced in 1999. Empirical studies conducted in recent years show that this age group drinks more than ever and takes more risks. New forms of problematic alcohol consumption such as binge drinking have become apparent.
Legal restrictions: Under the Ordinance on Foodstuffs and Utility Articles, fermented alcoholic beverages may not be given to those under 16. The Alcohol Act prohibits the sale of spirits (including alcopops) to under 18s. When selling alcoholic beverages, points of sale and restaurants are obliged to draw attention to the age restrictions by means of signs and to comply with them, checking the purchaser's ID where appropriate.
Cooperation with the cantons and businesses: In close collaboration with the Confederation and cantons, as well as with representatives of the catering trade, retailing and alcoholic beverage producers, the SAB has developed measures to ensure better compliance with the legal requirements in practice. These include training for sales and service staff, alcohol test purchases, and information and awareness campaigns.
Alcohol duty: Taxation is one of the most effective measures for protecting young people. In 2003, the SAB initiated a bill on a special tax for alcopops or so-called "FABs" (flavoured alcoholic beverages). The massive sales of these alcoholic beverages to young people called for action in terms of healthcare policy. The special tax on alcopops has been in force since 1 February 2004.