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Tobacco control policy in France: from war to compromise and collaboration

Author(s): Alain Braillon | Anne Sophie Mereau | Gérard Dubois

Journal: Tobacco Control and Public Health in Eastern Europe
ISSN 2222-2693

Volume: 2;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 59;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: tobacco | public policy | Framework Convention on Tobacco Control | France

BACKGROUND: Absence of an effective tobacco control policy costs lives and tobacco prevention is policy-sensitive. We describe the historical record of tobacco control in France. METHODS: Public policies and main decisions (laws, regulations, health plans) for tobacco control were considered from 1950 to 2010. Data for cigarette sales and relative price of cigarettes were obtained from official databases. Sales are expressed in number of cigarettes. The relative price of cigarettes is the nominal price divided by the Consumer Price Index. RESULTS: The first step Veil Law (1976) blunted the steady increase in cigarette sales observed since World War II. The second period began with the Evin Law (1991). This law banned tobacco advertising and withdrew tobacco from the Consumer Price Index allowing for marked and repeated increases in taxes. Sales decreased over the next 6 years, from 97.1 billion to 83.0 billion in 1997 but then remained steady for 5 years (83.5 billion in 2001). The first Cancer Plan (2003) imposed three tax increases in a year (39% increase in price). Cigarette sales decreased to 54.9 billion in 2004. This period ended in 2004 when a moratorium on tobacco taxes was announced. The policies which have been implemented since President Sarkozy was elected in 2007 were flawed and protected the interests of the tobacco industry: prevalence of smoking is now increasing, mainly among the younger generation. Since 1991, the cigarette market has nearly halved but the decline has been a stop-and-go erratic process. The two 5-year periods (1997-2002 and 2005 -2010) during which consumption leveled off seem to demonstrate that government-driven health policies could have been influenced by commercial interests. CONCLUSION: Tobacco control efforts, especially tobacco tax increases, need to be sustained and shielded from the influence of the tobacco industry.
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