One-third of underage clients manage to buy alcohol


Stressed cashiers and vendors wary of losing business are the most likely to sell alcohol to underage customers in Switzerland, warns an addiction prevention organisation. Its study shows that about one-third of underage shoppers were able to buy alcohol.

This content was published on September 5, 2019

The findings, released on Thursday, come from a study commissioned by the Federal Customs AdministrationExternal link and carried out by addiction prevention group Sucht SchweizExternal link. The group interviewed 30 sales and service employees in all language regions of Switzerland. Many said that customers become impatient, even insulting or assaulting staff at busy times of the day or at events such as festivals.

Among the thousands of test purchases set up by the Federal Customs Administration in recent years, about one in three underage mystery shoppers succeeded at buying alcohol. In the most recent year, 2017, 28.7% of the 7,225 minors managed to buy drinks. The best “success” rates were recorded at events/festivals (44.8%), retailers (39%), and bars (38.1%).

Sucht Schweiz recommends that young people automatically be required to show ID, and that festivals and bars could establish a wristband system. However, many of the sellers interviewed said another problem was when shoppers purchased drinks for underage companions.

The legal drinking age for beer and wine is 16 in most of Switzerland, and 18 in Italian-speaking canton Ticino. Throughout the nation, only those 18 and older can buy spirits.

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