The new French minister for Health, Agnès Buzyn, told the French journal le Parisien on June 15 that she wasn’t against an increase of the price of the cigarette pack to 10 euros.
This idea is fully backed by the National Anti-Smoking Committee. It actually comes directly from Emmanual Macron’s program when he was running for President.
For the Health Minister, « it is an option that needs to be discussed with all the actors and that requires pedagogy. I am not against such a rise. (…) Today, the rate of smoking women aged 20 to 40 years old is the highest in the world. Mortality caused by cancers and infarction continues to rise. The price increase of the cigarette pack is therefore a means to reduce the number of smokers. I hear the concerns of the French people regarding their purchasing power. But this is a critical public health matter ».
Tobacco professionals are obviously up in arms against this proposal. This would represent a major increase of the tobacco price. Today, the cigarette pack costs around 6,50€. We would therefore reach a rise superior to 50%.
For the tobacconist confederation, the government is aiming at the wrong target. They should rather « make the fight against the black market their main priority ». And for British American Tobacco, the price increase would not be successful. Indeed, during the last 10 years, the price of tobacco products has almost doubled. But the development of the black market has prevented the number of smokers from decreasing.
What about e-cigarettes?
In their answer to the Health Minister, tobacco manufacturers have also offered to promote the electronic cigarette. With little surprise, Agnès Buzyn declined this proposal. She stated that there were « little scientific evidence to consider vaping as an effective tool » in stop smoking programs. The government will not review the « vaping ban that will be implemented next Octover 1st in some public spaces. » Agnès Buzyn is therefore in perfect continuity with the French Health Authorities who have been opposing vaping for several years now.
Let’s finish by a glimmer of hope for vapers and the French electronic cigarette industry, Agnès Buzyn has acknowledged the fact that « vaping enables to reduce [tobacco] consumption »!