It's a fairly common sight in the bigger French cities – unlicenced street vendors offering cigarettes from a cart or blanket at knock-down prices.
But while there have always been punishments in place for the sellers who take part in such unofficial activity, now the French government has introduced a new law that also fines the buyer.
The new rule, formally brought in to force on December 20th, 2019, is intended to combat criminal smuggling networks as well as protecting the trade of licenced tabacs.
The fine can be handed out by a police officer or city official and if paid within 15 days can be reduced to €90. If payment is not made with 60 days the fine can be increased up to a maximum of €375.
Unlicenced vendors of all types are a common sight in French cities, particularly Paris where street vendors sell food, drink, cigarettes, sunglasses, mobile phones and – at tourist sites – thousands of different types of miniature Eiffel Towers.
Police have made repeated attempts to crack down on the vendors, especially at the major tourists sites, but the problem remains and some confrontations between police and the sellers have turned violent.
At one point riot police were even drafted in to patrol the area around the Eiffel Tower.