A recent report1 shows that around 1 in 7 Swiss drink no alcohol. Of the 13.8% who avoid alcohol completely, 6.5% have avoided it all their lives, while a further 7.3% are former drinkers who haven’t consumed alcohol over the last 12 months.
The number of Swiss non-drinkers has climbed since 2011 when only 11.7% abstained. This appears to driven by a decline in the number of younger drinkers and an increase in the number quitting.
The highest percentage of teetotalers is found in French-speaking Switzerland. There, more than 1 in 6 (17.5%) don’t drink. Italian-speakers are not far behind with 17.2% staying away from drink. It is harder to find a non-drinker in German-speaking Switzerland where only 12.8% of the population avoid all alcohol consumption.
Italian speakers have the largest number who have abstained all their lives (11.8%), and French-speaking Switzerland the greatest percentage of ex-drinkers (8.6%).
Interestingly, Switzerland’s French-speakers don’t share the drinking habits of their French neighbours, where a World Health Organisation study put the percentage of non-drinkers in France at 2%2.
The largest group of Swiss non-drinkers are aged 15 to 19. 25.3% of this group don’t drink. Those over 75 are also well represented. 18.1% of this age band doesn’t drink. Those least likely to abstain are aged 20 to 24 (10.1%).
Swiss women are more likely to avoid alcohol: 17.8% versus 9.7% for men.
64.7% of former drinkers say they stopped for health reasons. Other reasons include, unpleasant taste (63.8%) and unpleasant effect (51.1%).
The Swiss study is based on a survey of around 11,000 people across the country. The figures above are for 2015.