Research - 21.06.2024 - 15:30 

From grapes to vapes: The 13th Edition of the Swiss Trade Monitor

According to the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, eight out of ten people consume alcohol and one in four people smoke. This report explores the intricate dynamics of Switzerland’s trade in these commodities, shedding light on significant import and export trends as well as the influence that the regulatory framework and related decisions have on the flow of trade.

Switzerland is a small open economy. The international exchange of goods and services is crucial for the nation’s economic prosperity. The Swiss Trade Monitor aims to document key trends in Switzerland’s foreign trade.

In the 13th edition of the Swiss Trade Monitor, researchers from the Institute for Law and Economics at the University of St.Gallen (HSG) have focused on the trade of products containing addictive substances such as alcohol, tobacco, and nicotine products. The sources of trade data used for this report are compiled from the Swiss Federal Office for Customs and Border Security (FOCBS) as well as, when focusing on federal revenue, the Federal Department of Finance.

Key findings from the 13th Edition of the Swiss Trade Monitor include:

Low trade volume but significant economic impact

While the trade volume of alcohol, tobacco and nicotine products is relatively small, accounting for just 0.91 % and 0.2 % of Switzerland’s total import and export volumes, respectively, these sectors generate significant federal revenue and have a noteworthy economic influence within the country. Alcohol-related taxes generate an annual revenue of over CHF 400 million.

Significant increase of snus and vapes

The import of newer nicotine products like snus and vapes has been rising, reflecting a shift in consumer preferences. Notably, snus has become increasingly popular after a federal court ruling in 2019 that acknowledged the risks associated with nicotine but did not consider them a basis for prohibition and decided that the consumption of snus is not associated with an immediate health risk.

Swiss wine market domination

Switzerland imports alcohol products worth CHF 1.5 billion per year, but exports are a mere CHF 125 million. Italy, France, and Spain are the leading source countries of wine for Switzerland by volume. Even though Italy leads imports by a wide margin in total litres, France is the leader in terms of value, resulting in a significantly higher average price per litre.

The strategic production of tobacco 

Switzerland serves as a strategic base for the production of tobacco products by major global companies due to its lenient legislation compared to other countries. This has positioned Switzerland as a key exporter of tobacco and nicotine products (primarily cigarettes), especially to countries with less stringent consumption regulations.

The 13th edition of the Swiss Trade Monitor is available for download on the research platform Further analyses from the Swiss Trade Monitor can be found at:

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