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Swiss drank less alcohol during pandemic

Published on 18/03/2022
Written by swissinfo.ch
Published from Swissinfo.ch

The Swiss bought and drank less alcohol during the Covid-19 pandemic, with the average person cutting back by 2.6 standard drinks a month. This corresponds to a 7.7% decrease in alcohol consumption among the general population.

The trend applied to both men and women, and a 17% decrease in binge drinking was also seen, the Addiction Switzerland foundation said in a statement on Thursday. Limits put on private meetings, the closure of bars and restaurants and lower incomes would explain these figures, it said.

However, it noted “a polarisation of behaviour in the risk groups”. In these categories, some people have reduced their consumption, while others have drunk more.

At home, 16% of respondents reduced their alcohol consumption, while 17% drank a little or a lot more. The reasons given for this increase were pleasure in drinking, increased leisure time, stress, boredom or self-medication.

People under 44 increased their consumption, while older people limited it, citing the scarcity of social time due to the pandemic and the need to take care of their health.

Imports increase

Among 15- to 24-year-olds the number of abstainers increased, but those who drank alcohol drank more of it. Addiction Switzerland puts this down to age-related initiation rituals in alcohol consumption.

Overall, the population bought slightly less alcohol during the pandemic – at home and abroad. On the other hand, according to the Federal Office of Customs and Border Security, alcohol imports into Switzerland increased by just over 157,000hl (4.1 million gallons) of pure alcohol in 2020 compared with 2019, an increase of almost 30%.

In a representative survey, some 2,000 people aged 15 and over were asked in the summer of 2021 about their alcohol consumption and purchases. The analysis compared the 12-month period before the introduction of the Covid measures in mid-March 2020 and the 12-month period afterwards.