In France, the PACA region (Provence-Alps-Cote-d’Azur) has the highest rates of smoking, and the Ile-de-France (Paris) region has the lowest. These numbers come from a regional map detailing smoking rates, published by the health authorities on January 29.
According to 2017 numbers published by Public Health France, 26.9% of 18-75 year French citizens smoke daily. This number is an average, however, and hides the vast differences in regional smoking rates. The lowest smoking rates are in the Ile-de-France region (21.3%), and in the Loire Valley (23%). The highest rates are found in the Provence-Alps-Cote d’Azur region (32.2%), Hauts-de-France (30.5%), Occitanie (30.3%), and the Grand-Est region (30.1%).
According to Viet Nguyen Thanh, head of the addiction treatment unit at Public Health France, there are multiple reasons for these differing numbers. First, it is well known that members of a lower socio-economic status tend to smoke more than others. This may explain why the smoking rates are lowest in the Paris region, which has a higher mean global income.
Border regions tend to have the highest smoking rates
Another explanation is that the regions with the highest rates of smoking are located on the border of countries where tobacco prices are cheaper than in France.
A comparative regional map already appeared last year, when health authorities announced a historic drop in the number of smokers in France—1 million fewer smokers than in 2017.
The map published last January was quite exhaustive and was a joint project between France’s national health and medical research body (INSERM) and the OFDT, an addiction research institute. The study showed that the percentage of smokers is higher than the average in the Grand-Est and Hauts-de-France regions, but that it’s lower for 17 year olds: 23.5% and 23.7%, respectively, compared to a 25.1% smoking rate amongst 17 year olds in the rest of the country.