High spirits: France mulls massive tax hike on strong liquor

The price of Cognac and Calvados could soon soar with the French government mulling a massive hike in taxes on strong alcoholic drinks as part of a crackdown on beverages that are bad for your health.

High spirits: France mulls massive tax hike on strong liquor
Photo: World EPCC / Flickr

It could be bad news for anyone in France who enjoys a glass of Pastis, Chartreuse or Cognac. Or indeed those who make some of France's most famous strong liquors.

The government is considering setting its sights on raising the price of strong alcoholic drinks (with an alcohol level over 15 percent) via a tax increase, Les Echos reported
The proposal, put forward by Olivier Véran, could be part of the government's new social security budget, which is set to be presented on Wednesday.
The suggested tax hike would form part of a raft of measures to increase the price tag on drinks that negatively affect health, including sugary soft drinks.
The tax increase would affect brandy, gin, rum, tequila, vodka, and whiskies, as well as other spirits, which typically contain 40 percent alcohol.
(Photo: Sacreligious/ Flickr)
French wine and beer, which contain less alcohol, would be exempt from the price hike. Although certain fortified French wines like Muscat would fall under the new tax.
If the increase gets the green light it would mean big gains for the government with an initial estimation suggesting coffers could be boosted by the tune of €150 million. 
However reports suggest the government is divided on the matter.
But it's not just spirits that would be subject to the government's price hike but fizzy drinks too. 
The “soda tax” is part of an attempt to crack down on the consumption of sugary drinks to combat obesity and diabetes following an international recommendation from the United Nations. 
This measure is however controversial, with health minister Agnès Buzyn saying that increasing the price of fizzy drinks would simply be a “tax on the poor”.


Calvados to Chartreuse: The ultimate booze map of France


France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25

Free birth control for all women under 25 will be available in France from Saturday, expanding a scheme targeting under-18s to ensure young women don't stop taking contraception because they cannot afford it.

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25
A doctor holds an interuterine contraceptive device (IUD) before inserting it in a patient. Photo: Adek Berry/AFP

The scheme, which could benefit three million women, covers the pill, IUDs, contraceptive patches and other methods composed of steroid hormones. Contraception for minors was already free in France.

Several European countries, including Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway, make contraception free for teens. Britain makes several forms of contraception free to all.

France announced the extension to women under 25 in September, saying surveys showed a decline in the use of contraception mainly for financial reasons.

The move is part of a series of measures taken by President Emmanuel Macron’s government to boost women’s rights and alleviate youth poverty. The free provision is supported by women’s groups including the association En Avant Tous.

“Between 18 and 25-years-old, women are very vulnerable because they lose a lot of rights compared to when they were minors and are very precarious economically,” spokeswoman Louise Delavier told AFP.

Leslie Fonquerne, an expert in gender issues, said there was more to be done.

“This measure in no way resolves the imbalance in the contraceptive burden between women and men,” the sociologist said.

In some developed countries, the free contraception won by women after decades of campaigning is coming under attack again from the religious right.

In the United States, former president Barack Obama’s signature health reform, known as Obamacare, gave most people with health insurance free access to birth control.

But his successor Donald Trump scrapped the measure, allowing employers to opt out of providing contraception coverage on religious grounds — a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in 2020.

Poland’s conservative government has also heavily restricted access to emergency contraception as part of its war on birth control.