What the French Health Minister told the Assemblée Nationale

France introduced plain packaging in 2016. January 2017 marks the first complete year of operation of that policy. On November 29, 2017 the French health minister Agnes Buzyn was asked as to the efficacy of the policy. Her reply:

Mme Agnès Buzyn, ministre. Lorsque j’avais rédigé le plan cancer 2014-2019, j’avais difficilement obtenu qu’il y ait un chapitre dédié à la lutte contre le tabagisme. Après des arbitrages au plus haut niveau, j’avais obtenu ce qui s’est appelé par la suite un programme national de réduction du tabagisme, soutenu par Marisol Touraine et dans lequel il avait été clairement choisi d’instaurer le paquet neutre plutôt que d’augmenter le prix du tabac. Or, celui-ci, nous le savons, ne permet pas aux fumeurs d’arrêter de fumer. Son seul intérêt est de « démarketiser » l’image du tabac auprès des jeunes qui commenceraient à fumer, ces derniers étant très sensibles aux marques et à l’image qu’elles véhiculent.

Malheureusement, en 2016, les ventes officielles de cigarettes ont augmenté en France : le paquet neutre n’a donc pas fait diminuer la vente officielle de tabac. Nous ne disposons pas d’une typologie de ceux qui continuent de fumer et ne savons donc pas si le paquet neutre a été efficace pour empêcher les jeunes d’entrer dans le tabagisme – j’attends à ce sujet les données des observatoires. À l’époque, j’avais prôné, désespérément dirais-je, l’augmentation du prix du tabac contre l’instauration du paquet neutre. Les choix et les arbitrages avaient été différents. Maintenant que je suis ministre, je suis ravie de défendre une proposition à laquelle je crois fondamentalement.

Luckily google translate provides an English version (emphasis added):

When I wrote the 2014-2019 cancer plan, I had difficulty getting a chapter dedicated to the fight against smoking. After arbitrations at the highest level, I obtained what was later called a national smoking reduction program, supported by Marisol Touraine and in which it was clearly chosen to introduce the neutral package rather than increase the price of tobacco. However, this one, we know, does not allow smokers to stop smoking. Its only interest is to “demarketise” the image of tobacco among young people who would start to smoke, the latter being very sensitive to brands and the image they convey.

Unfortunately, in 2016, official sales of cigarettes increased in France: the neutral package did not reduce the official sale of tobacco. We do not have a typology of those who continue to smoke and therefore do not know if the neutral package has been effective in keeping young people out of smoking – I am waiting for the data from the observatories. At the time, I advocated, desperately I would say, the rise in the price of tobacco against the introduction of the neutral package. The choices and arbitrations had been different. Now that I am a minister, I am pleased to defend a proposal that I fundamentally believe.

Astonishing – a politician that tells the truth about a policy that had previously failed here in Australia.

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6 Responses to What the French Health Minister told the Assemblée Nationale

  1. Nerblnob

    Politicians pushing for it in Europe usually claim that it’s been a great success in Australia. (They do the same with bicycle helmets)

  2. John Constantine

    How did that alcopops thing go with keeping teenagers from experimenting with booze?.

    What a brilliant idea nanny roxfilth.

    Just because one nutcase gets hysterical over an issue, why do we have to watch the entire government roll over and go along with the hysteria so she doesn’t yell at them?

  3. Mother Lode

    We do not have a typology of those who continue to smoke and therefore do not know if the neutral package has been effective in keeping young people out of smoking

    Soooo…he is saying that maybe it discouraged from smoking, but if it did, then at the same time something occurred that caused other demographics to increase smoking by a greater amount.

    Bravo. (*one person slow clap*)

  4. Mother Lode

    Sadly, the skills required to get into politics have nothing to do with getting things done.

    Perhaps it once did – where a politician might have sought electoral success by benefitting voters. But now it is about soundbites on telly, and undermining rivals.

    These are the people publicly taking it upon themselves to manage programs and achieve outcomes.

    Any such person entering politics would not stand a chance.

    Trump won candidacy and Presidency by avoiding the political establishment, and he was able to do so because the Presidency is not opened exclusively to establishment politicians, he knew the American public better than they do, and he was able to manage his campaign as a project without their input.

    He reamed them a new one.

  5. MACK

    It really is time to stand up to the politicians on sin taxes – cigarettes, booze, speeding fines. None of them has any significant effect on behaviour, and are just another cynical way of raising money to buy votes. Let’s have the data so we can all send it to our MPs.

  6. egg_

    Unfortunately, in 2016, official sales of cigarettes increased in France: the neutral package did not reduce the official sale of tobacco.

    Vive la résistance!

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