01.12.2014 Working together to create a society in which fewer people fall ill or die from the effects of smoking

National Tobacco Programme. On 9 May 2012, the Swiss Federal Council extended the National Tobacco Programme by a further four years to the end of 2016. This measure ensures that prevention activities already launched have a long-term effect.

Pictures Working together to create a society in which fewer people fall ill or die from the effects of smoking


The second phase of the National Tobacco Programme (NTP) got under way in 2013. Close to its half-way point, the time is now opportune to take stock of the progress to date. To achieve the three main goals of the NTP (see box), efforts have continued in the following four priority areas: "Information and opinion formation"; "Health protection and market regulation"; "Behaviour-oriented prevention" and "Coordination and cooperation". In an action plan drawn up last year for the NTP, the strategic leadership of the NTP defined 14 priority measures to be implemented in the second phase. The following provides an overview of the most important ongoing activities in the four priority areas.

Information and opinion formation
The focus in this area is on the new NTP partner campaign, which is to be launched in early 2015 under the already familiar "SmokeFree" umbrella brand and will run for three years. A particular feature of this campaign is its partnership-based development and implementation – the campaign is underpinned by a steering group made up in equal parts of representatives of NGOs, the cantons and the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH). The deployment of the steering group has proved to be an effective and productive measure that enables the ideas, wishes and experience of capable partners to be integrated into the campaign. In addition, all the stakeholders of tobacco control have an opportunity to play an active part in the campaign through a variety of partner-based projects and subprojects.
As an awareness campaign, it will target the population as a whole and aims to strengthen "not smoking" as the social norm. It will use its prominent public presence to support the wide range of tobacco-control activities being undertaken in Switzerland.
With its additional emphasis on motivation, the new campaign will focus particularly on the "smokers" target group. The aim is to motivate this group to give up smoking and to support their efforts to do so. The most recent figures from Addiction Monitoring in Switzerland show that about one third of all smokers want to give up smoking within the next six months. Over half of those who smoke every day express a general wish to give up the habit.
The creation of the Knowledge & Research Working Group was a further measure undertaken under the aegis of the Platform for Tobacco Control Partners. The ambitious goal of this working group, which comprises representatives of the federal government, cantons and NGOs, is to institutionalise a knowledge management system among tobacco-control players. The working group was set up in response to the partners' need to bundle the immense, but scattered, knowledge accumulated by the players.

Health protection and market regulation
On 21 May 2014, the Swiss government referred the preliminary draft of the Tobacco Products Act to the consultation procedure. This process was completed by 12 September 2014. The centrepiece of the draft law is improved protection of minors. This is to be guaranteed by means of far-reaching restrictions on advertising and a uniform, nationwide ban on the sale and distribution of tobacco products to minors. In addition, the preliminary draft envisages authorisation of the sale of nicotine-containing e-cigarettes and the liquids they contain.

Behaviour-oriented prevention
The lead in measures focusing on behavioural prevention is taken by the cantons, municipalities and prevention bodies. The FOPH only has a subsidiary role to play in this priority area. Behavioural prevention focuses on activities designed to stop people starting to smoke, motivate smokers into giving up the habit and protect the public against passive smoking. Such projects are financed largely by the Tobacco Control Fund (TCF), but stakeholders also provide funding from their own resources.
The Knowledge & Research Working Group referred to above pursues a secondary goal of establishing a shared understanding of what constitutes "best practices" and  of where to deploy them. Because of the time-consuming work on the knowledge management system, this activity is still in its infancy.

Coordination and cooperation
There was a general improvement in cooperation and coordination among the partners active in tobacco control. This was thanks in part to the regular meetings of the Platform for Tobacco Control Partners and to bilateral contacts with the implementation partners. But tobacco control issues are also being taken into account in the drafts of the future strategies on non-communicable diseases and on addiction, which are being prepared in collaboration with partners.
The Platform for Tobacco Control Partners, which has been meeting every year since the end of 2012, ensures that the NTP is being implemented on a coordinated, targeted basis, with the participation of motivated implementation partners. The evaluation of the first meeting of the Platform showed that the partners needed working groups to flesh out the details of NTP implementation. An implementation plan was accordingly drawn up at the second meeting of the Platform in 2013 and dedicated working groups were set up. Over 90 implementation partners participated in the third meeting of the Platform, which was held this year.
Furthermore, the Working Group “Cantonal Tobacco Control Programmes” was set up under the aegis of the Platform for Tobacco Control Partners. It is made up of one permanent member each from the FOPH, TCF and the Association of Cantonal Health Promotion Officers (VBGF), and it can call on additional specialists in an advisory capacity from the cantons, NGOs or the Federal Administration. This working group pursues the following goals derived from the NTP: dialogue and coordination among the tobacco control partners and with players that can influence tobacco control efforts. It helps the cantons draw up and implement their own tobacco control programmes.

National Tobacco Programme 2008–2016: the main facts in brief

Mission: Smoking-related cases of death and disease in Switzerland have been reduced.
Main goal 1: A 20% drop in the proportion of smokers in the resident population
of Switzerland, i.e. from 29% (2007) to about 23%.
Main goal 2: A 20% drop in the proportion of smokers in the age group 15 to 19, i.e. from 24% (2007) to less than 20%.
Main goal 3: An 80% drop in the proportion of people who are exposed for seven hours or more per week to other people’s smoke (passive smoking), i.e. from 27% (2006) to about 5%.


Joëlle Pitteloud, Head of Tobacco Section, joelle.pitteloud@bag.admin.ch

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