Last March, French tobacconists reduced their tobacco orders by 19% compared to the previous year. Gross sales also saw a 14% drop in 9 years, the equivalent of 8,900 tons of merchandise. In terms of turnover, the numbers remain stable thanks to a significant increase in tobacco taxes imposed by the State.
One of the main reasons for the sharp drop is the increased price of a pack of cigarettes. The number has skyrocketed from 1.70 Euros in 1990 to 8 Euros in 2018, an increase of 470%. Further increases are expected by 2020, reaching a symbolic level of 10 Euros per packet. In comparison, gasoline has only increased by 73% over the same period.
To counterbalance soaring prices, smokers have adopted new ways to consume tobacco. Smaller packets are now preferred. Additionally, in recent years, vaping has started to take a share of the market of traditional cigarettes. Matthew Carpenter, an American researcher, has shown that e-cigarette users reduce their tobacco consumption by an average of 37%, even when they do not completely quit smoking. This is yet another reason for the decline in sales.
Measures to fight against tobacco addiction
Over the years, successive governments have put programs into place to try and reduce tobacco consumption in France. Today, a number of smokers benefit from better reimbursement of anti-nicotine treatments, helping them ween themselves off of tobacco. The cost for social security of drug substitutes for tobacco increased from 11 million Euros in 2016 to 20 million Euros in 2017.
Since February 1, 2017, it is illegal to smoke in public places. This decree made it possible to highlight the dangers of cigarettes, and significantly reduced the risks of second-hand smoking. Today, this initially unpopular measure is seen in a favourable light by two thirds of those surveyed, including smokers.
The following months will be decisive in determining whether or not the trends observed in recent weeks will continue.