France to ban smoking near parks, beaches, schools

Image of a woman breaking a cigarette.

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As part of a comprehensive government plan to tackle tobacco-related mortality, France will raise cigarette prices over the coming years and expand tobacco-free spaces to include beaches, parks, forests, schools, and other public spaces. The plans comes as governments worldwide seek to promote a tobacco-free society.

Forget Gauloises and Gitanes as France cracks down

French Minister of Health Aurélien Rousseau detailed the plan in a press conference . The government’s tobacco plan will be applied to the period between 2023 and 2027, and will also include an increase in the price of cigarettes adjusted for expected inflation. In 2025, a pack of cigarettes will cost €12, eventually stabilising at €13 by 2027.

“Tobacco-free will now be the norm,” Rousseau said.

In the press conference, he added that tobacco is still the leading preventable cause of death in France, killing 200 people a day and 75,000 people a year. The end goal is to achieve an entirely tobacco-free generation by 2032, Rousseau said. The government will also impose a ban on single-use disposable electronic cigarettes in the coming years, according to Forbes France. 

After the press conference on French television network BFMTV, Rousseau specified the initiative’s goals. “What we want is to move away from the trivialization of tobacco, from cigarette butts on the ground not far from schools, on the beaches,” he said.

The initiative’s first step — to decrease youth smoking rates — has already seen some success, with a drop in the number of youth smokers between 2017 and 2022. The French government’s initiative comes amidst a building global movement to decrease smoking rates, particularly among young people.

Britain wants to stub our cigarettes

Earlier this year, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak detailed a plan to slowly phase out cigarette sales in England, increasing the legal age of purchase each year until eventually no one can legally buy cigarettes.

In Hong Kong in July of this year, Health Secretary Lo-Chung-mau promised to crack down on enforcement of tobacco-free zones, even going so far as to suggest that Hong Kong residents should stare at people smoking in public to encourage a tobacco-free society.

And in Australia, Health Minister Mark Butler announced on November 28 that starting in January, the government will ban imports of disposable electronic cigarettes, a highly popular, nicotine-rich alternative to smoking that has seen a surge in popularity among youth in recent years.

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Cole Sinanian

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