France unveils cigarette price hike and public spaces ban under new restrictions to tackle smoking

People put out cigarettes by a MeGo ashtray in Plougonvelin, western France.
People put out cigarettes by a MeGo ashtray in Plougonvelin, western France. Copyright FRED TANNEAU/AFP
By Lauren Chadwick
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France's health ministry unveiled a new plan on Tuesday to tackle cigarette smoking in the country, including bans on smoking in parks and on beaches.

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From hiking the price of a pack of cigarettes to banning smoking in parks, France has announced a raft of new measures to reduce the number of smokers.

As part of a new plan, the government will increase prices to €13 a pack in 2027, ban disposable e-cigarettes, and ban smoking in public spaces such as parks, beaches, forests and other public areas.

Their aim is to create a generation "free of tobacco" by 2032.

"Tobacco plays a key role in illnesses and preventable mortality," said health minister Aurélien Rousseau, "and every day France pays a heavy price for smoking".

Cigarette smoking is the top cause of preventable death in France, resulting in 75,000 deaths per year. It's also the top cause of premature death before the age of 65, the health minister said.

"Despite these figures, despite the chilling reality of these figures, the daily use of tobacco concerns 12 million of our fellow citizens, one-fourth of the adult population," he added.

According to Eurostat, the daily percentage of smokers in France is higher than the EU average. Around 22.2 per cent of people aged 15 and older smoke daily in the country compared to 19.7 per cent in the EU.

Prices of cigarettes will rise gradually - with a pack costing €12 in 2025 and €13 in 2027, the government said. A pack is currently priced between €10-11.

"An essential part of these new measures is that support for smokers will be strengthened because successfully quitting smoking is not easy," Rousseau added in a statement.

"This support will benefit everyone, but I insist on the fact that targeted actions will be carried out towards the most exposed groups, in particular the most vulnerable".

Rousseau said the country also wanted to support people who sell cigarettes to help them reduce dependence on tobacco-related income.

'Fully mobilised to support plan'

According to Daniel Nizri, president of the French charity the League Against Cancer, the "number of smokers is stagnating".

"If we want to reduce it, and in particular prevent younger people from starting to smoke, it is urgent to act on a large scale and to extend the ban on smoking in public spaces, near schools and in parks frequented by children," he said.

"After having encouraged and supported communities in the establishment of Tobacco-Free Spaces, we are delighted to see this measure becoming widespread and are fully mobilised to support its implementation".

A report published in August found that France lost more money to lives lost and prevention spending on alcohol and tobacco use than it gains from taxes on those products.

Tobacco smoking costs the state €156 billion, the report said, including the economic value of lives lost, the loss of quality of life for patients with cancer caused by smoking, and state spending on prevention and care.

Tobacco consumption is also the most significant cause of premature death in the European Union and kills around 700,000 people every year. Around half of smokers die prematurely, according to the EU.

Many countries have recently attempted to prevent people from smoking and vaping.

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Australia's government said this week that they would ban imports of single-use e-cigarettes this week to prevent younger adults from smoking them.

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