Prevention and youth protection

In general, two forms of prevention can be distinguished: behavioural prevention aimed at strengthening psychosocial skills, and structural prevention, which defines the framework in which individuals evolve. Very good results can be observed from structural public health measures, especially if they are supported by behavioural measures.

Structural prevention is defined as the number of measures taken in specific settings that contribute to the promotion of healthy living conditions. The development of public space, facilities and infrastructure for young people also contribute to the prevention of alcohol-related problems.

Structural alcohol prevention in Switzerland

The Alcohol Sector (ALK) of the Federal Office for Customs and Border Security FOCBS, which is responsible for regulating alcohol trade and advertising, focuses primarily on the structural aspects of preventing problematic alcohol consumption. These include restrictions on access to alcoholic beverages (sales hours, minimum age for the sale and supply of alcohol, etc.), advertising restrictions and pricing policy or taxation. Secondly, structural measures also include monitoring and improving compliance with legal provisions.

In Switzerland, the law prohibits the sale or free supply of

  •  beer, wine and cider (fermented drinks) to young people under 16 years of age;
  • spirits (distilled drinks or mixed drinks containing distilled alcohol) to young people under 18 years of age.

Cantons and retail outlets may apply stricter rules than the federal laws. In Ticino and in some department stores, for example, it is prohibited to sell any form of alcoholic beverages to young people under the age of 18.

Sales staff play a key role in protecting young people. In case of doubt about a customer's age, which is very often the case and quite normal for a developing young person, an official identity document (passport, identity card or driving licence) must be requested in order to determine the exact age of the person concerned.
The point of sale must also have a clearly visible sign that clearly indicates the restrictions on the provision of alcoholic beverages to young people.

In summary, alcohol taxation, production and trade control, advertising restrictions and age limit requirements are among the measures that fall within the scope of ALK's activities.


Federal Office for Customs and Border Security FOCBS
Alcohol Sector
Route de la Mandchourie 25
2800 Delémont

+41 58 462 65 00
+41 58 463 18 28

Print contact