Health For Members

MAP: Where in France do people smoke the most?

James Harrington
James Harrington - [email protected]
MAP: Where in France do people smoke the most?
Cigarettes butts. (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)

A quarter of the population of France smokes daily despite the health risks, according to figures published by Santé Publique France, but there are also some stark regional differences in smoking rates.


So which area of France are you most likely to encounter smokers?


Well the south-east region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur has the highest rate of daily smokers per head of the population, the health watchdog found.

Nearly 30 [29.5] percent of people in the south-east region of France light up every day, the study found, slightly ahead of neighbouring Mediterranean-and-mountains region Occitanie, where an estimated 28.9 percent of the population smoke.

Next come the two eastern regions of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté (27.4 percent) and Grand-Est (26.9 percent) followed by Nouvelle-Aquitaine (26.3 percent) in the southwest.

The northern areas of Hauts-de-France and Brittany (26.1 percent), and Normandy (25.6 percent) have lower smoking rates while the lowest rates were in central and northern France with Pays de la Loire at 22.4 percent and Centre-Val de Loire at 22.4 percent.

Contrary to what you might expect when you get a waft of smoke from the café terraces, the greater Paris region of Île-de-France has the lowest national rate with 21.9 percent of daily smokers.

The figures seem to support the notion of France as a nation of Gitanes-addicts. Smoking is the leading cause of avoidable deaths in France, with 13 percent of deaths attributed to smoking, while, in 2020, the country had the highest prevalence of smokers in western Europe, according to the Santé Publique France report.


The Programme national de lutte contre le tabac (PNLT) 2018-2022 (National Tobacco Control Programme) set the intermediate target of achieving a daily smoking prevalence of less than 24 percent among adults by 2020.

There’s clearly some way to go. But, between 2010 and 2021, the organisation saw a significant drop in smoking in six French regions – Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Centre-Val de Loire, Hauts-de-France, Île-de-France, Normandy and Nouvelle-Aquitaine.

Nationally, the report said, that males under the age of 60, with a lower level of income and an education standard lower than or equal to the baccalaureate were more likely to smoke than any other group of people.

Across France, more than half of smokers say they want to quit. The results of the study will now enable health authorities to adapt their cessation assistance policies.


Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur 29.5% 

Occitanie 28.9% 

Bourgogne-Franche-Comté 27.4%

Grand Est 26.9%

Nouvelle-Aquitaine 26.3% 

Hauts-de-France 26.1% 

Bretagne 26.1%

Normandie 25.6%

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes 24.8%

Pays de la Loire 22.4%

Centre-Val de Loire 22.4%

Île-de-France 21.9%



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