[Ip-health] France24: France moves towards plain cigarette packaging and e-cig ban

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Mon Jun 16 04:11:15 PDT 2014


Latest update : 2014-05-30
France is considering a move towards plain packaging for cigarettes and
banning e-cigarettes in public places in what could be one of the world’s
toughest anti-smoking policies.

Health Minister Marisol Touraine will next month present a law that would
stop cigarette manufacturers from printing their distinctive logos on
packages, Le Figaro newspaper reported on Friday.

The newspaper said that plain packaging, with the cigarette brand written
in small lettering under a graphic health warning, would be one of a number
of measures to curb smoking, including a ban on using e-cigarettes, or
“vaping”, in public places, Le Figaro said.

Australia pioneered plain packaging for cigarettes in 2012 and Britain, New
Zealand and Ireland all plan similar bans.

The proposed legislation will be presented to French lawmakers next month.

France’s tobacco retailers, whose strictly regulated “Tabac” outlets are a
feature of the French landscape, believe that the government has
misunderstood the problem if it pushes ahead with this legislation.

“We are deeply shocked,” Pascal Montredon, who is head of France’s tobacco
retailers’ union, told Le Figaro. “We all feel that the government doesn’t
know what it’s doing. Australia has already introduced plain packaging, and
the number of cigarettes sold has actually gone up.

“This measure will make the packets easier to copy and increase the number
of counterfeit cigarettes,” he added. “As for banning electronic cigarettes
in public places, why not? But the real problem is that sales are not
regulated. We’ve asked the government to act on this and they’ve done
nothing. Only regulated Tabacs should be able to sell these products.”

Smokers’ paradise

With its cafe culture and chain-smoking Nouvelle Vague movie stars, France
earned a reputation as a smokers’ paradise after World War Two.

Iconic dark-tobacco brands like Gitanes, favoured by Gainsbourg, who smoked
up to five packs a day, and Gauloises, preferred by philosopher Jean-Paul
Sartre, grew hugely popular, in part thanks to their stylish packaging.

While the reputation sticks, smoking rates in France have since plummeted.
Less than a third of the population now lights up regularly, which is about
average for the European Union and down sharply from nearly 60 percent in
the 1960s.

Tough anti-tobacco laws were introduced in 1991 which forced cigarette
manufacturers to display health warnings on packets and forbade large-scale
advertising on billboards and TV. Smoking in public places was banned in

Advocates of plain packaging argue that stripping packets of eye-catching
logos is effective in reducing smoking among young people. Currently, one
in three French people aged 15 to 19 is a smoker, according to the Health

As French smoking rates have declined, so has the country’s once-vibrant
tobacco industry. The state-owned Seita brand that produced Gauloises and
Gitanes was bought by Britain’s Imperial Tobacco in 2008, and much of its
production moved abroad.

In April, Imperial Tobacco announced the closure of the largest Gauloise
cigarette factory in France, prompting the factory’s 327 workers to go on
strike and hold five managers hostage on the worksite, near Nantes, this

The managers were released on Thursday after a day of captivity.

*(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)*

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