France’s attempts to stub out smoking have been a total collapse, a spending watchdog said on December 13 in a damning report that notified only maintained price increases will control the country’s popular cigarettes – Gauloises and Gitanes.
“The hazards of smoking are still extremely undervalued by the public,” said Didier Migaud, the first president of the Cour de Comptes, the body that audits government spending.
The watchdog’s survey analyzed the effect of anti-smoking actions since 1991, when laws were first implemented demanding bars, cafes and restaurants to offer smoke-free places.
A more robust law, prohibiting smoking in all enclosed public places, became operational in 2007, but has not had the essential effect.
The number of smoking people dropped from 34.7% to 31.4% between 2000 and 2005 but increased again to 33.7% by 2010, with the upward trend strongest among women, the young and low-income people.
Migaud said that the situation in France is not the same as in Britain, where smoking rates has dropped from 30% to 20% in the last ten years, because of education, programs intended to help people give up smoking and tight enforcement of limitations on sales of tobacco products, notably to those under 18.
Migaud said that tobacconist is likely to be exposed to check ups once a hundred years.
He as well complained the fact that government support to the cigarette kiosks in France — designed to cushion them against dropping sales — had gotten 300 million euros annually since 2004, three times the amount invested in smoking prevention actions.
The report as well said that the government should raise prices sufficiently to reach a long term drop in cigarette use, oblige tobacco companies to change to packaging without brand name and prohibit cigarettes from public display in cigarette stores.
In addition, money should be moved towards education, aid for people who want to stop smoking and better enforcement of current limitations on sales.