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CIGARETTES

US governor blasts France’s anti-tobacco law

France’s plan to ban all branding on packets of cigarettes might have gone down well with anti-smoking campaigners but it has clearly riled the US governor of North Carolina, who has suggested the US take reprisals.

US governor blasts France's anti-tobacco law
The governor of the US state of North Carolina has slammed France's crackdown on smoking. Photo: Pascal Pavani/AFP

France’s ambitious bid to cut smoking rates in the country has not been welcomed by the governor of the state of North Carolina, Pat McCrory.

The Republican wrote an angry letter this week to Gérard Araud, the French ambassador to the US, to “formally oppose the project of his government”, Le Figaro reported on Wednesday.  

McCrory, who is in charge of America’s biggest tobacco producing state, has taken issue with Paris’s pledge to end branding on cigarette packages, a move that proved a success in cutting cigarette use in Australia.

He then hints at possible reprisals against France from across the pond.

"Imagine if the United States demanded standard packaging on alcoholic drinks. Noteworthy French companies would be outraged, and they would be right to be," McCrory wrote possible referring to the likes of LVMH, Pernod Ricard, Rémy Cointreau.

France's branding ban will rid packets of logos and instead replace them with health warnings and shocking photographs to try to discourage people from smoking.

The move is part of France’s Health Minister’s Marisol Touraine’s bill, which also includes plans to ban smoking in cars where children are present and outlaw e-cigarettes from certain public places.

In his letter to the ambassador, McCrory states dismisses the plain packets as only a "symbolic measure" that “threatens to deviate resources and attention from more effective actions that would allow France to attain their ultimate goal to become a smoke-free country within the next decade”.

Tobacco is one of the key industries in the state of North Carolina and according to McCrory outlawing branding will penalise the manufacturers.  

Citing their argument, he writes that plain packaging is a “direct assault” on trademark laws.  

The ban on branded packaging is set to come into force in January 2016.

by Simone Flückliger

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SMOKING

‘One million French people’ give up smoking in just 12 months

One million French smokers who previously sparked up everyday have given up smoking in the last 12 months, the country's Ministry of Health revealed on Monday, suggesting France's reputation as Europe's chimney might no longer be appropriate.

'One million French people' give up smoking in just 12 months
Photo: AFP
The government is claiming it as a win for their policy of escalating the price of cigarettes in increments to €10 by 2020 which they say is acting as a “deterrent” for many smokers. 
 
In 2017, 26.9 percent of 18- to 75-year-olds smoked every day, compared to 29.4 percent a year earlier. 
 
One of the key trends is the decline “among the most disadvantaged smokers” for “the first time since 2000,” the ministry said in a statement.
 
“These results are encouraging, they mark a break [with old habits],” said France's Health Minister Agnès Buzyn. “With the rise in tax [on cigarettes] we can hope that these results are sustainable.”
 
“Tobacco is a trajectory of inequality, it weighs particularly on the most disadvantaged and it gets worse,” said the minister.
 
Among the “most disadvantaged” people France, 34 percent smoked every day in 2017, against 38.8 percent in 2016 and among the unemployed, 43.5 percent smoked in 2017 compared to 49.7 percent in 2016. 
 
“On top of the rise in national tax, which has already proved fruitful, we are working at the European level on a European tax framework,” said Buzyn.
 
“In France, I remind you, tobacco kills 200 people every day (…) We know that one in two smokers will die of tobacco,” said the minister, adding that it is necessary “to continue this major fight against one of the biggest scourges of public health.”
 
Cutting down on the number of smokers in France has been a key aim of the current government since it came into power last year. 
 
In 2017, The Local reported that French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe had said that with 80,000 tobacco-related deaths in France each year, “doing nothing is not an option”.
 
Tobacco “is the leading cause of preventable death, and daily use is growing among adolescents,” the premier said in a speech to parliament.
 
And in January 2017, the previous government introduced plain packaging — with its accompanying shocking photos — in the hope that it would decrease the number of French smokers.
 
The price of a packet of cigarettes has increased incrementally, with smokers currently paying an average of €7.90 euros, according to France's Ministry of Health.
 
READ ALSO:
The French and smoking: Is France really 'Europe's chimney'
French actress Brigitte Bardot lights up a film set, but times have changed since the heedy and very smoky 1960s. Photo: AFP
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