French Health Officials Hope to Discourage Smoking


Since the detrimental impacts on health of nicotine-laced tobacco cigarettes became widely known several decades ago, many governments around the world have acted to limit smoking in order to help reduce high health care bills. Yet cigarette smoking has remained widely popular in France. Now Agnes Buzyn, the nation's new Minister For Health, hopes raising the price of a carton of cigarettes will persuade the French public to stop smoking so much tobacco.

Encouraging Optimal Public Health

Newly-elected President Macron's government recently enumerated some specific national health care goals for France. In addition to implementing compulsory vaccinations for certain childhood diseases, Minister Buzyn hopes the French government will provide health care coverage for an expanded list of dental, vision and hearing aid procedures and work to reduce nicotine tobacco cigarette consumption. At the present time, roughly three out of every ten adult French citizens smokes tobacco (compared with fewer than 20% of the population in Britain).

To prompt French smokers to reconsider before lighting up, Minister Buzyn plans to raise the price of cigarettes through the imposition of new taxes. Cartons which presently cost around 7 € (per packet of 20 cigarettes) within three years will soar to 10 € (the equivalent of $11.40 using today's exchange rates). The hike will make French cigarettes roughly comparable in price to tobacco products sold in the British Isles.

Health Minister Agnes Buzyn

Dr. Agnes Buzyn, France's recently appointed Minister of Health, worked as the head of the French National Authority for Health before accepting her present post in Prime Minister Edouard Philippe's cabinet. She previously directed France's National Cancer Institute. Now 54, she has gained experience during her medical career as both a hematologist (a blood specialist) and a professor of medicine. Her husband, Yves Lévy, serves as the Director of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research.

The recently-elected government of President Emmanuel Macron hopes the new tax will ultimately change the public's smoking habits in France. Minister Buzyn recently noted the economy must sustain "big" price rises in the cost of cigarettes in order to affect public health in the nation. She expressed her hope that the hefty increases would produce France's first non-smoking generation.

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