The Monitoring


Elements of the Tobacco Monitoring Switzerland

The individual elements of the research system are described here. The system consists of a basic module and various add-on modules.

Basic module

In the basic module, key data on tobacco consumption were collected four times per year (2,500 interviews per quarter). The survey population is all persons residing in Switzerland aged 14-65.


All participants

  • Perceived health status, respiratory complaints, health behaviors
  • Smoking status (categorized as smokers, ex-smokers, never-smokers, following WHO (1998)) 
  • Sociodemographic variables

Regular smokers and occasional smokers

  • Type of tobacco product and cigarette brand
  • Number of cigarettes smoked
  • Degree of nicotine dependence
  • Age at starting regular cigarette consumption
  • Place / conditions / time of tobacco consumption
  • Readiness to quit / identification of phase according to the transtheoretical model (TTM) (Prochaska et al., 1998)
  • Unsuccessful attempts to quit in the last 12 months


  • Length of time of tobacco abstinence / identification of TTM phase
  • Age at starting regular cigarette consumption
  • Cessation aids
  • Reasons for quitting

Pregnant women and mothers of small children

  • Consumption habits before, during, and after pregnancy
  • Knowledge of the harmfulness of tobacco consumption for the fetus and harmfulness of exposure to secondhand smoke for small children
Add-on modules

The basic module can be complemented by add-on modules containing further questions, either for one survey wave only or repeated in the survey waves periodically. Up to December 2010, add-on modules contained questions on the following topics: 

In the first survey wave, as a baseline measurement for the campaign, “Smoking is harmful.._,” all target persons were asked questions on their perceptions of campaigns about the harmfulness of smoking. Starting with the second survey wave, they were asked specifically about their perceptions of the TV spots and also what they remembered of the campaign contents. In addition, the participants were asked about their knowledge of the harmful effects of tobacco consumption and secondhand smoke. Since survey wave 10, the main emphasis of these questions has been on the credibility of the campaign contents and the extent to which people feel affected by the TV spots and ads. 

In the second and sixth survey waves, another add-on module captured information on people’s attitudes on the subject of passive smoking, on exposure to secondhand smoke at various places, and on perceived annoyance with secondhand smoke. In the 16th and 24th survey waves, those questions were asked again, in order to assess any changes.

The third through sixth survey waves included an add-on module on young persons. The aim was to collect data on, among other things, smoking behavior among peers, reasons for and against smoking, and the image of adolescent smokers and non-smokers. The questions in this add-on module were also contained in survey waves 14-17 and 26-28.

In the fourth and fifth survey waves, the participants were asked about smoking counseling by physicians. They were asked whether smokers had talked about their smoking habits when at the doctor’s office, whether doctors had advised them to quit smoking, and whether they had been offered smoking cessation aids. This add-on module was repeated in survey waves 20, 21, and 28.

Survey waves seven through 10 included the add-on module ‘harm reduction / reduction of cigarette consumption.’ This concerned mainly smokers that did not have the intention to quit smoking anytime soon. A question of special interest was whether they wanted to cut down the number of cigarettes that they smoked.

In survey waves 10 and 19, people living in Switzerland were asked about their opinion on the influence of tobacco advertising, on extensively restricting advertising, on prohibiting the sale of cigarettes to young people, and on raising the price of cigarettes.

Survey wave 12 included an add-on module on perceptions of the actors Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) and tobacco industry. Participants were asked about their perception of information on the health risks of tobacco consumption and about what channels of information that they paid attention to. They were also asked to compare the images of the FOPH and the tobacco industry based on nine characteristics and to assess the various activities of the two actors.  

Since survey wave 18, each wave has included a permanent add-on module of questions about protections for non-smokers and on legal regulations, as a complement to the add-on modules ‘passive smoking’ and ‘policies / laws.’


Tobacco Monitoring Switzerland. Development and implementation on behalf of the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health. Funded by the Tobacco Prevention Fund.
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