Greetings from the Federal Office of Public Health
I would like to wish you a very warm welcome for the 21st Annual Conference of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco. We were honoured to welcome you in Lausanne, Switzerland in 2020, unfortunately the conference could not take place. Nevertheless, we would like to welcome you virtually at the 21st SRNT-E Annual Conference 2021, organised by Unisanté, which is very active in tobacco control.
The theme of this year’s conference, “Innovative approaches to an old problem”, should entice to participate. Do we need more scientific evidence for an effective policy in tobacco control? Sometimes it seems to be necessary, because scientific facts can clash with other interests, especially when economic interests of the private sector are at stake. It is one of the reasons why Switzerland is second –to-last in terms of tobacco control in Europe. The results of the conference will therefore be crucial in helping the authorities to find innovative strategies to protect people from health problems associated with tobacco consumption.
Clearly, we need to develop new approaches to further reduce the number of smokers, especially among young people, and strive for a smoke-free world. During the last 10 years, we have had over 27% that is almost 2 million smokers, in Switzerland. Thus, tobacco consumption is one of the largest public health problems. Every hour, one person dies because of smoking, which corresponds to 15% of all deaths. Tobacco consumption causes many non-communicable diseases and is a major burden on public health and the national economy. The cost of medical treatment for these diseases in Switzerland amounts to CHF 1.7 billion per year. Moreover, we also need to add the costs of loss of earnings of 3.9 billion francs per year, when smokers fall ill and become incapacitated for work.
In Switzerland, a new tobacco products’ law is currently under discussion in our Parliament. This new law will apply to all new tobacco and nicotine products.
I look forward to interesting discussions and valuable insights at the conference and hope that you will enjoy your stay in one of the most beautiful cities in Switzerland on the shores of the lovely Lake of Geneva.
Dr. Roland Charrière
Deputy Director of the Federal Office of Public Health