Category Archives: France

NPR report: French teens continue smoking despite government crackdown


Heard a radio report on NPR last week  about how efforts to curb teen smoking in France are flagging, because smoking is still considered hip and suave among French youths.

According to NPR, smoking remains wildly popular among teenagers in France. This despite a very aggressive anti-smoking campaign in France over the past several years. (Check the photo I included of a French anti-smoking ad. That image of a girl giving a blow job to a tobacco executive? That’s a real French anti-smoking ad. There’s another one with a teen boy.).

Anyway, according to NPR, in spite of all the anti-smoking efforts, smoking remains deeply entrenched in French culture  About 40 percent of French teens smoke, according to NPR. That compares to less than 10 percent of American teens that now smoke (Smoking among teens in America has declined partly because of an aggressive Truth anti-smoking campaign and higher cigarette taxes,  and to a very large extent because of the meteoric rise of popularity of e-cigarettes among kids.).

Real, honest-to-goodness French anti-smoking ad

France is implementing a number of measures to cut that smoking rate, including bans on menthol cigarettes and prohibiting sweet e-cigarette flavours. France will also soon mandate disgusting images of tobacco-related diseases on cigarette packs and  there have also been some very edgy anti-smoking ads there over the years and the government will crack down on tobacconists who don’t card underage customers. Apparently, in France, tobacco shop (cigarettes are primarly sold in tobacco shops in France) owners have not been carding kids buying cigarettes.

Interestingly, kids interviewed by NPR said the plain packages won’t stop them from smoking, but higher taxes probably would. Higher taxes in America have proven very effective in pricing kids out of the cigarette market. Teens simply can’t afford the $6 to $8 a pack cigarettes cost in most places.

One quote in the NPR piece made me kind of want to smack this kid (metaphorically smack her … I would never actually smack a kid around). From the story:

Smoking is often popular among girls, who see it as a rite of passage and a part of French culture, says Naomi Finel, 16.

“If you’re young and you walk in the streets and you’re in Paris, you will see people at cafes smoking and having a glass of wine,” she says. “And it’s like, ‘Good. They seem happy. They seem to enjoy their life.'”

Oh, honey, you little French nitwit. They won’t be enjoying their smokers’ hack in the morning. They won’t be enjoying their loss of lung capacity. They won’t be enjoying their arthritis, heart disease, COPD or cancer that their smoking will likely give them. Smoking is not about joie de vivre, smoking is death.

France cracks down on e-cigarettes, tobacco packaging

France, which all but epitomizes European cool when it comes to cigarettes, is proposing to impose strict new rulesE-cigarettes regulation on the public use of e-cigarettes.

A bill has been introduced that would ban the use of e-cigs in public places.

I loved this response from a French spokesman for tobacco products:

The president of the French Tobacconists’ Confederation, Pascal Montredon, told the Guardian that Touraine was being unrealistic by modelling her reforms on “Anglo-saxon” countries such as Australia and Britain where the cigarette distribution network is completely different from France.

“Tobacconists are fed up with being stigmatised at a time when instead the government should be doing something about the unemployment rate,” he said. The confederation is pressing for e-cigarettes to be sold solely in tobacconist stores, but the proposed legislation fails to address this, he said.

Modeling reforms on “Anglo-Saxon” countries like Britain and Australia. Too funny. (Apparently, Australia has banned e-cig use in public according to this story).

Don’t have a strong opinion one way or another on this, other than I think it highlights that people really don’t trust e-cigs and don’t trust that the steam coming out of them is  completely benign. A few cities in the U.S. have banned e-cigs in public places, I don’t believe any states have, though I’m sure bills have been introduced.

This will be interesting to watch, because much of western Europe has imposed the same kind of strict anti-smoking measures seen in the U.S. (I have no idea how strictly they are enforced), which is a boon for the e-cig industry. Because people can’t smoke in bars anymore, now they can vape instead … except a lot of people aren’t comfortable with that nicotine-laced steam and don’t want to be around it.


In addition, France is also set to require plain packaging on cigarettes, much as Australia has done. Again, French tobacco spokespeople are not happy:

Celine Audibert, spokeswoman for French firm Seita, which is a subsidiary of Imperial Tobacco, slammed the move as “completely incomprehensible”.

“It’s based on the Australian experience which, more than a failure, was a complete fiasco,” added Audibert.

In 2012, Australia forced all cigarettes to be sold in identical, olive-brown packets bearing the same typeface and largely covered with graphic health warnings.

Oh, boo hoo Celine. How was it a “fiasco?” Because Imperial Tobacco’s profits declined? No matter the culture or location, tobacco weasels all speak the same language.

BTW, graphic warnings on cigarette packages was derailed on First Amendment grounds, but I found a really fascinating story about this that I will post later.