January 13, 2016

France Tries to Make Smoking Less Sexy

Cigarettes will have to be marketed in plain packaging in France starting next year after the parliament voted through an offer, which has driven the ire of cigarette makers. The action was submitted to the parliament late Wednesday after a modification, which pulled the support of 17 lawmakers from the leading Socialist Party failed by just two votes.

The parliaments' objective is to reduce the rate to one in five adults over a decade as France gradually passes the legislation against the habit. About nine years ago, France controversially prohibited smoking in enclosed public spaces, which include bars and restaurants.
And only last month, Paris regulators increased twofold penalties for falling cigarette butts to about €68 ($75) in a city where about 350 tons of cigarette butts are gathered yearly. Last year, Touraine estimated some 13 million people still light up in France.

Right after Wednesday's vote, all cigarettes from May 2016 will have to be sold in plain packaging of standard size and color in a step, which particularly takes a leaf out of Australia's book, that country having followed identical legislation three years ago. The United Kingdom and Ireland have since implemented the same regulation. The cigarette brand name will show up but in a small, uniform typeface and packages will be shorn of logos.

Cigarette makers have stood against the most recent actions, threatening legal modifications while suggesting they favor "prevention, not penalties" for smokers. Gille Lurton from the right-wing opposition Republicans stated that in completing the legislation on neutral packaging, parliament was "just inciting customers to get their supplies on the parallel market," while other colleagues cautioned it could sound a death knell to business in rural regions. Several Socialist lawmakers also cautioned the step could in border regions promote trade in foreign cigarette brands not subject to the new restrictions. However, Green Party representatives swung behind the bulk of the ruling Socialists in underlining their viewpoint that the new policy would help deter young people and women from purchasing cigarettes. "The plain packaging reduces a youngster's wish to light up. It's less sexy," stated Socialist Gerard Sebaoun.

By Lora Dowson, Staff Writer
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