France announced on Thursday that it would introduce plain cigarette packaging and ban electronic cigarettes in certain public places, in a bid to reduce high smoking rates among the under-16s.
Following a successful similar campaign in Australia, Health Minister Marisol Touraine said cigarette packets would be "the same shape, same size, same colour, same typeset" to make smoking less attractive to young smokers.
Smoking is the main cause of death in France, with 73,000 people dying each year of tobacco-related illnesses. Approximately 13 million people smoke in France every day, out of a total population of around 66 million.
"In France, 13 million adults smoke on a daily basis. And the situation is getting worse. The number of smokers is growing, especially among young people," said Touraine.
"We can't accept that tobacco kills 73,000 people every year in our country – the equivalent of a plane crash every day with 200 people on board," she added.
Paris also intends to ban smoking in cars where children under the age of 12 are present. Sparking up will also be forbidden in kids' outdoor play areas.
Advertising for e-cigarettes will also be regulated in the same way it is for traditional tobacco.
Touraine had long made it clear she wanted to ban e-cigarettes in public places, a move that sparked opposition from representatives of the burgeoning industry.
Currently users can fire up the devices in bars, cafes and restaurants because the devices use vapour and not smoke to deliver nicotine.
E-cigarettes have exploded in France, with statistics published by the French Observatory for Drugs and Addiction (OFDT) estimating that 18 percent of French people between the age of 15 and 75 had tried them.
Touraine acknowledged that "it's better to vape than to smoke" but stressed: "For a young person who has never smoked, an electronic cigarette can become a way in to smoking."
E-cigarettes will be banned in locations where young people gather – schools, for example – as well as on public transport and in enclosed work spaces.
The legislation proposed on Thursday is part of the government’s national plan to crack down on smoking. However the measure to introduce plain packaging is likely to face opposition from tobacco companies.
European Union laws already force tobacco firms to cover 65 percent of the packaging with health warnings.
But France wants to go further and follow Australia's example, to the fury of the tobacco companies.
Celine Audibert, spokeswoman for French firm Seita, which is a subsidiary of Imperial Tobacco, slammed the move as "completely incomprehensible".
"It's based on the Australian experience which, more than a failure, was a complete fiasco," she said.