Addiction Switzerland conducted a study financed by the Federal Customs Administration to find out how much Swiss youth are exposed to alcohol in their everyday lives. Based on a previous study on tobacco marketing, this new research analyzed the typical paths that young people between the ages of 16 to 19 years traveled in everyday life, in Geneva, Lausanne, Bern, Basel and Zurich, for alcohol advertising and alcohol-related stimuli.
On average the paths were covered within six hours and included various places such as sports, cinema, or restaurants. The study found 73 alcohol stimuli in each way. This is an alcohol promotion/ advertisement every five minutes.
The study was conducted in autumn 2020 when COVID-19 measures became stricter meaning that quite possibly alcohol advertising activity was actually lower than the usual.
Half of all the recorded alcohol stimuli were advertising or sales promotions. The other half consisted of stimuli such as empty bottles and cans in public spaces, and representations where alcohol plays a role.
Comparatively, prevention messages on these same paths were almost completely absent.
The study also illustrates that young people see a lot of alcohol advertising on the internet, specifically on social media. In 2019, 85% of Swiss youth between 16 to 19 years of age spent at least one hour on the internet. The majority of this time was spent on social media. Time spent online likely increased with the pandemic, lockdown and movement restrictions.
The report finds that, especially on Snapchat, Instagram and Tiktok, youth receive numerous pictures and messages with alcohol content from friends and acquaintances. There is also heavy advertising by influencers.
Addiction Switzerland states it is worrying how much Swiss youth are exposed to alcohol in their everyday lives and on the internet. Every year about 400 Swiss young people are hospitalized due to alcohol intoxication.
Addiction Switzerland calls on the government and policymakers to strengthen alcohol policy solutions to protect youth. This includes the regulation of alcohol marketing as well as the reduction of the attractiveness of alcohol among young people.