Tragic and avoidable deaths caused by tobacco number 73,000 per year in France, and the French government is working to strengthen anti-smoking initiatives. Among these, there is a plan to reimburse nicotine substitute products to help smokers in their efforts to quit, as announced by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, and Minister for Health Agnès Buzyn.
A new measure, part of the larger Preventive Health Plan, aims to facilitate access to smoking cessation aids that have been proven effective (chewing gum, nicotine patches, etc.). This new measure will replace the previous system, a 150-Euro annual budget to fund smoking-cessation strategies. While this appears promising on the surface, there is no mention of electronic cigattes in this health plan.
Coverage for vaping devices not looking likely
When asked about this decision, Agnès Buzyn was cautious in her response. She stated that the technology lacks long-term studies to conclusively state they are beneficial, but more importantly to determine health risks. And this despite the fact that there are many studies demonstrating the safety of vaping, in particular when compared to smoking.
While the government has cold feet when it comes to vaping as a health solution, even pro-vaping health specialists remain wary of social security coverage for these products. As explained by lung-specialist Bertrand Dautzenberg, vaping enthusiasts are using these devices for pleasure. If they end up going to the pharmacy to pick their juices, it would be akin to declaring e-cigs and e-juices as medical products, which would affect public opinion on the entire sector.
Accordin to Jacques Le Houezec, vaping already allows smokers to save a hefty sum of money compared to cigarettes. There would be little justification to cover vaping product costs, be it for consumers or for the government.
Pro-vaping communities are under no illusion that social security coverage will be implemented any time soon, but rather call for “a clear and encouraging government position”. While certain nations, such as the United Kingdom, actively promote e-cigarettes as a smoking-cessation strategy, France remains passive in this regard. Defenders of the e-cig cause, citing scientifically-proven benefits, are hoping the government will take a strong and positive position in favour of these potentially life-saving devices.