French health association calls for ban on e-cigarette flavours

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 13 Feb, 2023 Updated Mon 13 Feb 2023 13:26 CEST
French health association calls for ban on e-cigarette flavours
A man smokes an e-cigarette on the French riviera city of Nice (Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP)

After sharing the results of a three-year long study on new tobacco and nicotine products, the French National Committee against smoking has recommended a ban on non-tobacco flavours for all nicotine products in France, saying the sweet flavours are intended to target children.


France's National Committee against smoking, the CNCT, has recommended that the country institute a ban on flavours, apart from tobacco, for all products containing nicotine.

In a press release, the CNCT said that "without a rapid ban on flavours, the situation may become uncontrollable". 

The call to ban flavours aside from tobacco in nicotine products came after a three-year long study by the CNCT on new tobacco and nicotine products on the market. The CNCT, a French association that receives government support and funding from the Ministry of Health, often publishes research that is used to provide recommendations to the French government on tobacco and nicotine products.


The study ran from 2020 through 2022, and it found that heated tobacco products and electronic cigarettes, such as vapes, are being heavily promoted, often in illegal formats, with the goal of attracting young people. 

The study discovered that with more flavours, like fruits and candy options, being offered, particularly for vaping, the more the products have been known to emphasise a "recreational dimension" and "minimise how they are addictive and toxic". 

The CNCT said that the proliferation of flavours for nicotine products has "played a central role in [its] normalisation".

Professor Yves Martinet, one of the co-authors of the report, said in its press release that offering flavours does little to help smokers quit the habit, and that they are not targeted at this group. Instead, the "increased availability of flavours in new products has only one goal of gaining new, young consumers.

Illegal advertising

The CNCT also pointed to the prevalence of illegal advertising. In 1991, France passed the Loi Evin, which prohibited all advertising of tobacco products, and in 2016 vaping and electronic cigarette products were included within some of those restrictions.

Posters about electronic cigarettes or vapes are only allowed within specialised establishments: Tabacs or e-cigarette shops. However, even within these shops, posters for vapes and electronic cigarettes were meant to be informative in nature.

READ MORE: Why the tabac is essential to life in France – even if you don’t smoke

In their study, the CNCT visited several shops to observe how well that rule was being followed, and it found that of the shops visited, 84.5 percent advertised vapes in an illegal way and that 72 percent of vaping stores themselves also failed to comply with advertising regulations.


The CNCT also found that several vape and e-cigarette manufacturers used social media to advertise flavoured products to younger populations. The report noted the way online influencers promote e-cigarettes and vapes "in an extremely attractive way" - with references to tasty flavours and low prices.

The Loi Evin does not apply to cultural products such as film and TV, so it's common to see characters smoking in French movies and series. 

Smoking and vaping levels in France

When it comes to electronic cigarette usage, daily vaping increased slightly among French adults when looking at 2021 compared to 2020 - from 5 percent up to 6.7 percent. 

However, in terms of the number who have tried vaping and electronic cigarettes, the numbers remained stable at about 38.7 percent.

According to French public health authorities, smoking levels generally in France (for traditional tobacco products) have dropped significantly in recent years, particularly for children and young people. However, the habit did increase slightly after the Covid-19 pandemic when compared to pre-pandemic (2019).

The proportion of smokers declined from 34.5 percent to 30.4 percent between 2016 and 2019, and daily smokers also saw a decline from 29.4 percent to 24 percent, according to data from Santé publique France.

When looking at children (in troisième, or aged 14-15 years old), over half had already tried smoking in 2010, in comparison to 29 percent in 2021.


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