On March 25, the French prime minister made a striking statement: 1.6 million French people quit smoking in 2017, according to a study carried out by « Baromètre Santé ». The government is celebrating this news and is highlighting the positive impacts of various measures implemented to fight tobacco addiction. But what is really behind the numbers?
In the preamble to the “Interministerial Committee for Health,” Édouard Philippe was ecstatic about a drop of 600,000 smokers during the first quarter of 2018. This number is in addition to 1,000,000 people who said they quit smoking in 2017. France’s prime minister attributes the success to the government’s recent anti-tobacco laws. Since January 2017, the price of a pack of cigarettes has gone up by more than 1 Euro. Neutral cigarette packs are also now obligatory, and social security now reimburses nicotine substitutes.
In his speech, Édouard Philippe did not mention the rise in the number of e-cigarette users in France. In addition, the numbers given by “Baromètre Santé” should be taken with a grain of salt.
A sample pool with a questionable methodology
In order to determine the number of smokers who quit smoking, the government used the services of “Baromètre Santé .” The company conducted random surveys on just 9,076 French citizens between the ages of 18 and 75. Telephone numbers were chosen at random to establish the study, and the sample size was intended to represent the entire French population. By extrapolation, the polling institute calculated a drop of 600,000 smokers in the first quarter of 2018.
Additionally, the duration of each individual interview never went over 10 minutes, and it is worth asking how relevant the data is given the brevity of the interviews. Furthermore, during his speech, Édouard Philippe did not divulge the details of the study, nor did he mention the explosion in black market cigarettes in France, nor the large number of smokers who have turned towards vaping in recent months.