Price of a pack of cigarettes, tobacco-free spaces, access to treatments… What to remember from the government’s new plan against smoking

The Minister of Health presented, on Tuesday, a national program to “meet the challenge of a generation free of tobacco from 2032”.


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The Minister of Health, Aurélien Rousseau, presents the national tobacco control program 2023-2027, on November 28, 2023, at the Ministry of Health, in Paris.  (LUC NOBOUT / IP3 PRESS / MAXPPP)

The government wants “taking a new step against smoking”. The Minister of Health, Aurélien Rousseau, presented, Tuesday, November 28, his national tobacco control program for the period 2023-2027. With 75,000 deaths per year, smoking represents “the leading cause of preventable death” In France, “the leading cause of cancer death” And “the leading cause of mortality linked to cardiovascular diseases”he recalled.

While France still has 12 million daily smokers, i.e. “a quarter of the adult population”the executive intends to lower this figure by relying on “two main pillars” : a further increase in prices and an expansion of tobacco-free places. At the same time, health authorities wish to better support smokers who choose to quit, “an essential corollary” to get out of a logic “which would be seen as only punitive”. Here are the broad outlines of the new government strategy.

A package at 12 euros in 2025 and 13 euros by 2027

The minimum price of a pack of cigarettes will be increased to 12 euros “from the beginning of 2025”then at 13 euros “during the year 2026”, announced Aurélien Rousseau. Currently, the average price observed is around 11 euros, he said. Raising the bill for smokers “is indeed the most effective measure against tobacco”defended the minister, evoking “a scientific consensus at the global level” on the subject.

Why wait until 2025? In this period of inflation, an increase from 2024 would have “every chance of being understood only as a measure to hit purchasing power”, estimated Aurélien Rousseau. The objective of the two levels announced is to “give visibility” to smokers and give them time to begin the cessation process. It’s about a “comprehensive public health measure”insisted the minister.

Mechanically, under the effect of inflation, package prices should already increase by 40 to 50 cents from January 2024according to estimates from the Confederation of tobacconists, cited by The echoes. More cautious, Aurélien Rousseau mentioned an increase in “20 cents” next year. Contacted by franceinfo, his office specifies that the figures for 2024 must still be finalized. “In any case, if inflation has not done the job by itself, we will indeed raise the price to 12 euros on January 1, 2025 and 13 euros on January 1, 2027”says the ministry.

Tobacco-free beaches and parks from next year

All beaches, public parks and forests, as well as the surroundings of certain public places, such as schools, will become tobacco-free spaces, announced Aurélien Rousseau. “We will issue the decrees in the first quarter of 2024”he clarified.

So far, 7,200 places of this type have already been affected by smoking bans, but “it was above all the result of a movement driven locally by the municipalities”. “Today we reverse the responsibility and establish this principle, which becomes the rule”, explained the minister. The prefects will, however, retain the possibility “to adapt” this rule “to certain local specificities”.

The neutral package extended to electronic cigarettes, “puffs” banned

For “avoid postponement” of smokers towards new products and reduce “attractiveness” emerging practices, “the neutral package will be extended to all tobacco products, including vaping”promised Aurélien Rousseau. “With the current packaging, you have the impression of buying a luxury product”, he observed. The minister also intends to engage “very soon” a job for “limit the flavors authorized in vaping products” and continue the policy of “approximation of the taxation of all tobacco products, with or without combustion”.

“These products then most often lead to smoking and are not substitutes.”

Aurélien Rousseau, Minister of Health

at a press conference

As announced by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne in September, “puffs” will be banned. These disposable electronic cigarettes, often with sweet flavors, “are an aberration, both from the point of view of public health and that of their environmental footprint”, accused Aurélien Rousseau. This ban must be debated on Tuesday in the National Assembly, within the Social Affairs Committee, during the examination of a transpartisan bill to this effect.

Through these measures aimed at “protect” the audience “young and very young” targeted by these “colorful and fun products”the executive hopes to achieve “a first generation of adults free of tobacco in 2032”. He is already pleased with a “clear decline in smoking observed among 17-year-olds”with an increase from 25% to 16% of smokers in this age group between 2017 and 2022.

An experiment for non-prescription access to substitution treatments

From the first quarter of 2024, the government wishes to experiment with“direct access to reimbursed nicotine substitute treatments, without a prescription”. Pharmacists will be responsible for “prescription and delivery” of these patches and other gums and must offer smokers “to be personally accompanied by a health professional”. “The key to quitting smoking is getting help, not just being blamed.”insisted Aurélien Rousseau, also promising to “to strenghten” the Tabac Info Service platform.

Before increasing the price of a pack of cigarettes to 12 euros in 2025, the Minister of Health intends “take advantage of the whole of 2024 to develop all possible levers to support smokers in quitting smoking”. In this Olympic and Paralympic year, for example, he wants “reinforce adapted physical activity”. Of the “actions targeted towards the most exposed groups, in particular the most precarious”, will also be carried out.

“Support” for the transition of tobacconists

Aware that its plan risks affecting tobacco shops, the government promises to be “there to support and accompany” tobacconists “committed to the transformation of their profession”. He wants to help them to “reduce their dependence on tobacco income”. He is also committed to leading “a reinforced fight” against smuggling and cross-border purchases and to work for a “harmonization of taxation of tobacco products in Europe”. In “counterparty”the Minister of Health says he expects tobacco sellers to “concrete commitments” regarding compliance with the ban on the sale of tobacco to minors. Controls in this area will be “reinforced”he warns.

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