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How the health reforms will change life in France

The Local/AFP · 14 Apr 2015, 17:16

Published: 14 Apr 2015 17:16 GMT+02:00

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France's National Assembly voted through a raft of reforms on Tuesday after two weeks of often heated debate. 

The bill, presented by the health minister Marisol Touraine has provoked nationwide protests from doctors and criticism from French modelling agencies and tobacco companies.

Touraine's bill was adopted by the National Assembly by 311 votes to 241. It will now pass to the senate, before returning to lower house, before it officially becomes part of the law.

Here's the main points of how life in France will change:

Smoking crackdown: In an effort to take some of the glamour out of smoking, the colourful branding and well-known logos will be wiped off cigarette packs by 2016.  The crackdown on smoking also includes a ban on the the habit in cars with children in. Despite France’s reputation for healthy living, smoking is a major problem here and it’s tied to 73,000 deaths per year.

No more e-cigarettes at work: The electronic cigarette, which has proved highly popular in France will no longer be allowed in closed collective spaces like work as well in places where children are present like schools and public transport.

Clean rooms for drug users: The bill also includes introducing so-called "shooting galleries" or clean rooms for drug users in certain areas as part of trials. These are places where intravenous drug users would have access to clean needles, sanitized facilities and access to drug counselors. 

Binge drinking ban: If it is passed, people who encourage minors to drink excessively could face a year behind bars and a €15,000 fine. And anyone who incites others to “drink until drunk” could face up to six months in prison as well as a fine into the thousands.

Anorexia – Thanks to an amendment on a law public health voted on by MPs earlier this month, inciting anorexia will become a crime in France, carrying up to one year in prison and a fine of €10,000. The law is designed to take aim at so-called "pro-Ana" sites accused of encouraging excessive thinness. Up to an estimated 40,000 people suffer from anorexia in France, nine out of 10 of them women and girls. 
Skinny models to be banned- Under a similar amendment France will is to ban ultra-thin skinny models from catwalks. The move made headlines around the world. The aim, the Socialist deputies sponsoring the measures said, is to bring body ideals hawked to the public back to a healthy reality.
"Anyone whose body mass index... is below a certain level will not be able to work as a model," according to the amendment of the bill voted by the lawmakers. 
Tanning – Sunbeds will no longer be used by minors and must not be advertised. Those in charge of the machines must also be trained in the health risks triggered by exposure to UV rays.
Digital doctors records: France already has a system whereby patients’ records are supposed to be digitized, but it never really took off. So Touraine is giving it another try, this time putting the Assurance Maladie in charge of the initiative. Digital records are seen as the future for hospitals around the world and help doctors coordinate care, but also provide a means to keep patients informed and involved.
'Soda fountains': Another amendment added to the bill by deputies will see a ban brought in on unlimited refills of soft drinks from soda fountains. The move is aimed at tackling obesity. 

Payment-free doctors visits: The bill would end the current system that sees patients cover part of the cost of a doctor’s visit. It would come into effect for special cases by 2015 and by 2017 for everyone. The idea is to better prevent illness, which is less costly and produces better results than trying to treat a problem that’s long gone unchecked.

Abortion rule changes: The reform aims to get rid of the seven-day "cool-off period" for getting an abortion, which is in place to allow patients a chance to change their mind. Women must currently wait a week between two medical consultations in order to be allowed an abortion. In emergency cases, for example if the woman is approaching her 12th week of pregnancy, this seven-day period can be reduced to 48 hours. 

Story continues below…
Organ donation register: The new reforms say that people should have to sign up to NOT be on the organ donor list. France currently works on a system of assumed consent, but if the reform gets through, French people will have to sign a national registry saying they don't want their organs donated to circumvent this. It would come into place in 2018.
Cancer survivors' right to be forgotten: Touraine's reforms say that anyone in France who is 100 percent cured from cancer has the right to have their medical record "forgotten". This means that when they're applying for jobs or requesting loans, they can avoid any potential forms of discrimination.

The Local/AFP (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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