France considers increasing alcohol taxes to combat binge drinking

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France considers increasing alcohol taxes to combat binge drinking
Varied alcohol bottles at a supermarket in near Marseille (Photo by Christophe SIMON / AFP)

In an effort to fight excessive consumption of alcohol, the French government is looking at increasing taxes on wine, beer and spirits.


France's minister of economy, Bruno Le Maire, told Le Figaro on Tuesday in an interview that the French government is considering an initiative to increase taxes on alcohol sales, as a way to dissuade excessive consumption.

The project, if successful, would be part of the social security budget bill set to go in front of parliament in the early autumn.


According to the economy minister, taxes on alcohol would start to be calculated based on the year previous - the same process which is applied for tobacco products - rather than two-years previous as is the current system for tax on alcohol.

READ MORE: ANALYSIS: Why the French are drinking less and less wine

Although the plan is in its early stages, the government figures give example of just 0.3 centimes increase for a bottle of wine, and 1 or 2 centimes increases on spirits.  

But industry professionals are sceptical - the French Spirits Federation estimated to Le Figaro that a 10 percent tax increase, for instance on a litre of alcohol costing €19, would lead to increases of closer to €1 to €2. 

Leader of the Communist party, Fabien Roussel, responded by tweeting: "Stop knocking the working classes. It's not taxes on beer, wine and Ricard - even though you should to drink in moderation - that need to be increased. It's the taxes on yachts, jets and caviar!"

Health minister François Braun defended the plan, telling parliament on Tuesday that "our fight is not against a particular industry, but against excessive alcohol consumption.

"Our approach is based on prevention and moderation. It's first and foremost a public health issue".

Should the plan be included in the budget bill, France's parliament will begin debates in September.


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