PARIS (Reuters) - France’s health ministry on Thursday unveiled tough measures geared at stamping out smoking among young people, with a planned rollout of brandless cigarette packets and curbs on advertising for electronic cigarettes.
Health Minister Marisol Touraine said her anti-smoking plan, to be introduced in stages over two years, aimed to produce France’s first generation of non-smokers by the mid-2030s. Currently, about 30 percent of the population are smokers.
Among the boldest moves is the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes, on which distinctive advertising is banned and the brand is written in small lettering under a graphic health warning.
As in Australia, which pioneered plain packaging in 2012 and has reported a rise in calls to hotlines for people who want to quit, all packets sold will be of the same size and same color.
The French government will also forbid smoking in cars with children under the age of 12, ban smoking in areas commonly frequented by children and stop advertising for electronic cigarettes by May, 2016.
“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.
France has long been known as a paradise for smokers due to cafe culture, national brands like the “Gauloises” - no longer produced in France - and 1960s ‘Nouvelle Vague’ films in which characters lit constantly.
While smoking has declined sharply since the 1960s, in keeping with a trend across the West, the government said 73,000 people per year still died from tobacco-related causes - 20 times more than in road accidents.
Reporting By Nicholas Vinocur; editing by Mark John