The Future for Tobacco and Cigarettes in France
In an attempt to make smoking less appealing to young people, France has banned the sale of certain brands of tobacco and cigarettes that it considers to have “glamorous” names – after the country followed several other European territories and introduced packets with a neutral appearance.
In the UK, cigarettes must be kept in a closed cupboard behind a counter, and sold in white packaging, with a health warning on them. France followed suit recently and now french tobacco and cigarette brands such as Gauloises are banned – as are brands such as Vogue, Corset, Allure and Fine – all of which will need to rename themselves to stay on sale in France.
The decree, which bans names that may make young people believe that it is “chic” to be seen smoking, is motivated partly by the idea that such brand names are not in the spirit of keeping cigarette and tobacco packaging neutral.
It is not just French brands that must adhere to the ban – although the makers of things like the Cafe Creme, Punch and Paradiso cigarillos and cigars will be given two years to update their brands. Cigarette manufacturers will be required to make the change within a year, and companies that have names that refer to things like slenderness or finesse will also be expected to change their names. It is also forbidden to imply that the cigarette or tobacco could “boost your energy”, and claims that cigarettes are organic or biodegradable are not allowed – nor are references to menthol or fruits.
This puts us in an unusual position because brands such as the Gauloises, which are made in France and are popular abroad, may remain on sale in Germany and the UK under their original name, but be no longer sold in France under that name.
Sales of tobacco products in France increased in 2015 and fell by just 1.2 percent in 2016. The French government is trying to make smoking less popular, in a bid to reduce cancer incidences, and while things like e-cigarettes are eating into the customer base of the tobacco companies, there is still a large number of smokers in the country. Tax on tobacco has had a limited impact, because the French brands have chosen to eat the extra tax and not pass the cost on to consumers, in a bid to keep their customer base. This makes it hard to deter young people from picking up the habit because it is still affordable.
Neutral packaging has had some impact, and the ‘no smoking’ month in November has seen some success as a national campaign, but glamorous and ‘chic’ brands are still capturing the imaginations of young people, and the French government is pushing new no-smoking campaigns, and extra taxes, to try to turn people away from cigarettes once and for all. Other parts of Europe have managed to turn the tide, so their persistence may well pay off in the next few years. Strangely, however the thing that could really dent cigarette sales in France is the intorduction of the e-cigarette and how that is received by both the smoking public, and the government. One of the main e-cig sites in the UK is ECigsOnlineUK – ecig face book page, who provide a range of information and videos on how safe the product is.
But the only way to see how this all plays out is to watch this space.