Alcohol, illegal drugs and tobacco cause a great deal of suffering for those affected and high consequential costs for society. Besides the "classic" addictions, there are also "new" forms such as dependence on prescription drugs, gambling or excessive use of the Internet.


The Swiss drug policy – a pioneer model

Packages of drug measures. Switzerland's four-pillar drug policy is still a commendable example for many countries in their approach to drug problems. These are some of the impressive achievements over the last twenty years: open drug scenes have disappeared, while drug-related deaths, the HIV infection rate and drug-related crime have all decreased and public safety has improved. The drug problem has not been solved, but Switzerland has found a pragmatic, healthoriented and humane approach to the drug problem. The third package of drug measures expired at the end of 2016. As part of the National Addiction Strategy, which includes all types of addiction, the four-pillar drug policy will be developed further into the four-pillar addiction policy. more


Alcohol: how much is too much?

Alcohol prevention campaign. We all know it: drinking too much alcohol is harmful. But at what point exactly does relaxed turn into careless, tipsiness into drunkenness, flirtation into harassment? In brief: how much is too much? The current campaign by the Federal Office of Public Health and its partners sets out to persuade people living in Switzerland to find the answer to this question for themselves. The second wave of the campaign is scheduled to start this September. more


At first hand

Editorial Diane Steber Büchli. Towards the end of the 20th century, illicit drugs became a serious public health problem in Switzerland, gaining widespread attention due to impoverished drug addicts and open drug scenes. To protect public health as well as public safety and security, professionals and politicians developed a multidisciplinary approach to the drug problem in the shape of the so-called "four-pillar policy", focussing on the pillars prevention, treatment, harm reduction and law enforcement. Many of the bold and innovative measures of the Swiss approach– needle exchange, injection rooms, substitution therapy with methadone and, in particular, heroin-assisted treatment – generated great interest and were taken up in other countries, too. more


An opportunity for key shifts in international drug policy

UNGASS 2016. Eighteen years after its last Special Session on the topic of illicit drugs, the General Assembly of the United Nations has an opportunity to take ground-breaking decisions on international drug policy at a new Special Session scheduled for April 2016. Does it want to do so? Can it do so? What are its chances of success? more


Improved access and respect for human rights in the treatment of opioid dependence

Pompidou Group. In many countries, the prescription of opioid medicines such as methadone or buprenorphine is subject to rigorous restrictions. An expert group of the Council of Europe's Pompidou Group, the international cooperation group to combat drug abuse and illicit trafficking in drugs, has now spoken out in favour of a paradigm shift: decisions to permit or prohibit the prescription of opioid medicines should be based on scientific findings and respect for human rights rather than on a repression-oriented approach. These medicines are the best possible treatment for large numbers of dependent opioid users, and therefore, in compliance with human rights, access to them should not be withheld or subjected to restrictions. On Switzerland's initiative, the experts nominated by participating Pompidou Group Member States are drawing up guidelines to help member states review their regulations on this form of therapy. Switzerland has been mandated to head this project. more


Ruth Dreifuss: "What I expect from this year's UNGASS is, above all, honesty"

Interview with Ruth Dreifuss. After an interval of 18 years, a second United Nations Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem is to be held in New York in April 2016. Former government minister Ruth Dreifuss represented Switzerland at the 1998 Special Session as health minister. She will now be attending an UNGASS for the second time. We asked Ms Dreifuss what had changed since 1998. more


Bending a cigarette communicates successful smoking cessation

SmokeFree Campaign 2016. The spring phase of the current SmokeFree campaign focuses on success in quitting smoking: it encourages smokers to draw up a concrete plan of action for kicking the habit and it aims to activate families and friends increasingly into providing support for people who want to stop smoking. To this end, it draws smokers' attention to effective assistance services such as the SmokeFree Buddy app. The campaign is financed by the Tobacco Prevention Fund. more


Better with two: new app for giving up smoking

SmokeFree Buddy app. Having the support of a friend or partner makes it easier to stop smoking. As part of its SmokeFree prevention campaign, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) and its partners are launching a new mobile phone app that offers interactive support, the SmokeFree Buddy app. more


TV commercial provides motivation to quit

Lightning strikes and traffic accidents – those are things that only happen to other people! And lung cancer? The SmokeFree campaign's new TV commercial is using this this sobering question to make people aware that giving up smoking is worth the effort. Because smoking damages every organ in the body. Anyone who gives up smoking halves their risk of having a heart attack in just 5 years. And after 10 years, the risk of developing lung cancer drops by half. What's more, people have more success in giving up when they receive professional advice. People who are keen to stop smoking are recommended to make use of support – for example, a stop-smoking advisory service. The SmokeFree Buddy app allows them to obtain the support of a friend or loved one while taking that first step. more


The cooperation of all stakeholders for comprehensive action is the key to success

Interview Jo Locker. As guest speaker at the 4th Tobacco Prevention Partner Conference, Jo Locker, Tobacco Programme Manager from Public Health England (PHE) gave a presentation on the work of her organisation. We spoke with Jo Locker about ambitious goals, alliances and strategies for successful prevention –along the path leading to the PHE's vision of a «tobacco free generation». more