"Alcopops" price hike aims to protect teens
The price of designer drinks is set to rise in Switzerland as part of efforts to
prevent young people from becoming hooked on alcohol.
On Thursday, the Senate agreed to a government proposal to quadruple the tax on
so-called "alcopops". The issue still needs the approval of the House
Health officials argue that the beverages - a blend of spirits with soft drinks
or fruit juice - are too appealing to young people, many of whom are drinking to
Earlier this year the government said it wanted to raise the current tax of 45
centimes for a 275ml bottle of alcopops to SFr1.80, in a bid to curb drinking by
"Youngsters should not get used to drinking alcohol," said Eugen David
of the Christian Democratic Party.
A survey conducted in February this year showed that the consumption of spirits
among young people has risen significantly in Switzerland in the past two years.
The study also suggested that drinking patterns were influenced by the price of
alcohol and that people were buying more spirits following the generous tax cuts
on strong liquors two years ago. The trendy sweet drinks containing spirits made
their debut in Switzerland in 2000, when around two million bottles were sold.
The figure skyrocketed to 28 million in 2001 and last year about 40 million
bottles of alcopops were sold in Switzerland. However, critics say that a tax
hike is not enough to cut the consumption of alcopops among youngsters and are
calling on the government to do more to raise awareness.
"A tax increase is not enough. The government needs to step up its campaign
to raise awareness, of the effects of alcohol," said Helen Leumann of the
Radical Party. The government recently launched a campaign aimed at cutting
alcohol consumption among teenagers. It plans to show a series of advertisements
in cinemas urging youngsters to resist peer pressure to get drunk. Leumann also
suggested stepping up controls on the sale of alcohol to underage drinkers.
Last year, the German-language "TagesAnzeiger"newspaper published a
report that showed that current legislation had little impact. In one test, 392
children were sent out to buy alcohol in and around Zurich and at least half of
those aged 13 and 14 succeeded, while among the 15-year-olds almost two-thirds
were sold alcohol. swissinfo with agencies
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