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Research aimed at ensuring more effective tobacco prevention

If politicians have their way, tobacco advertising in print media and online is set to continue. To enable actors in the area of tobacco prevention to counter the marketing of tobacco companies with more effective campaigns, researchers at the ZHAW are developing basic principles and tools to better address different target groups.

Advertising for tobacco products in print media and online is set to remain permitted in Switzerland. During the summer session of 2021, the Council of States followed the lead of the National Council and softened what would have been tighter regulations in the new Tobacco Product Act, which the Swiss parliament has been debating for around five years. The National Council and Council of States want to ban tobacco advertising exclusively in magazines and on websites that are explicitly targeted at children and young people, as well as in public spaces, for example on posters or at cinemas. It is thus clear to advocates of a more stringent advertising ban on cigarettes and other tobacco products that politicians are putting the interests of the tobacco and advertising industries above the health of the population and the protection of minors. In a press release, the committee of the popular initiative “Yes to protecting children and young people from tobacco advertising” described the existing tobacco act as a token gesture that will “continue to allow advertising to be specifically targeted at children and young people”. Originally, the committee sought to find a compromise solution within the framework of the Tobacco Product Act. However, with the softening of the act, it is now sticking to its initiative, which is set to be voted on in 2022.

Current prevention efforts fail to meet needs

The researchers believe that current prevention efforts often fail to address the values, needs and realities of individual target groups and instead place an emphasis on overarching arguments such as the promotion of public health. They view this as problematic. According to their project website, prevention measures therefore often times likely fail to meet the individual needs of clients. “As a result, they are not very effective and are rejected.”