Another gauntlet has been thrown down in the international war against smoking. French Health Minister Marisol Touraine unveiled her two-year, staged program to curb smoking among France’s youth. The goal is to produce France’s first generation of non-smokers by 2030.
The measure getting the biggest play is the packaging rules. Stateside, we are used to seeing the distinctive packaging of cigarettes. This could be the once iconic Marlboro red pack, or the menthol cigarettes.
New rules in France will require plain packaging, with little to no branding. A giant health warning will be printed, with the brand name of the cigarettes written in a small font underneath. All packets will have to be uniform in size in color. It follows a similar initiative in Australia that saw hotline calls on how to quit surge.
E-cigarettes will also be under the gun. Advertising bans on the devices will go into effect by May 2016. Smoking bans in cars with children under the age of 12 will be implemented, as will smoking bans in areas frequented by a lot of children.
That last one is broad, and will likely see the most pushback. You can make the argument that children are everywhere in the tourist country, but the Health Ministry is adamant about cutting smoking rates.
There has been a sharp decline in recent decades, but 73,000 deaths per year are attributed to smoking in the country. That’s 20 times the rate of auto accidents. The French and smoking has been popularized in pop culture through movies. While the decline is real, Health Minister Marisol Touraine is on a mission to halt smoking under her watch.
“We have set an ambitious goal: to succeed in making children born today the first ‘non-smoking’ generation in 20 years,” Touraine said in a statement.