Cantonal director of health and EVZ player lend their support to pupils

Martin Pfister, the cantonal director of health, and Santeri Alatalo, a Finnish member of the EVZ ice-hockey team, joined a large number of secondary school age pupils on Landsgemeindeplatz last Friday as many were presented with financial or other rewards for having given up smoking, or refraining from taking up the habit, in the period between 8 November 2017 and 8 May 2018.

What was particularly encouraging was that, in this nationwide campaign to prevent young people from smoking, the number of participants from Zug was above average. “It is particularly good to see so many young people gathered here today who have the courage to say no to smoking,” said Pfister, as he addressed pupils from no fewer than two dozen classes.

Among the pupils present was Ramona Weinberger of Cham, who said how participation in this nationwide non-smoking experiment had been a great incentive for pupils to disassociate themselves from the habit, adding that, in her class, it had been no great hardship for pupils to distance themselves from it, as a fellow pupil, Noemi Thürig, mentioned it was easier not to take up the habit if part of a group as one could support each other. It was mentioned also how pupils who had already started to smoke were accompanied and encouraged not to, when tempted, when it came to going out.

It was also mentioned at the event how pupils’ attitudes to smoking had changed in recent years. “More are realising smoking is injurious to health and that one’s health is far more important,” said Fabian Burkhart, also of Cham. Participating in sports and keeping fit and active is the priority these days, and who better exemplifies this than Alatalo? “Far better not to start smoking in the first place,” he said.

Some classes have taken part in this scheme for a second and third time, with pupils rewarded with CHF 150 or CHF 300 for their abstinence. Where whole classes have managed to refrain, these are given travel vouchers worth CHF 500 which come in very useful for their class trips.

“The whole thing has been a great team effort for the pupils,” said Pfister. “It is something they will surely not regret.”    

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