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