July 8, 2010 - Taxes on cigarettes could be increased further to retaliate against a price cut by manufacturers that comes into effect today.
British American Tobacco (BAT) has announced it is dropping the price of a pack of 20 cigarettes in France from €5.50 (6.98 USD) to €5.30 (6.73 USD) for two of its brands, Rothmans and Lucky Strike. Rolling tobacco manufacturer Drum is also cutting prices today, down from €7 (8.88 USD) to €6.65 (8.44 USD).
Health Minister Roselyne Bachelot said she was shocked by the move, which the government has no power to stop. She said she was determined that efforts to prevent people smoking would not be beaten by a price cut. She told RTL: "The only means I have is to increase taxes on tobacco." Anti-smoking group the Office Français de Prévention du Tabagisme said the price cut was a "health scandal" and would "attract new smokers, especially young people and women".
According to the Observatoire Français des Drogues et des Toxicomanies, 29% of adults in France smoke regularly and another 5% occasionally. In France, there are about 66,000 smoking-related deaths each year and up to 5,800 deaths from passive smoking, inhaling the smoke of smokers.
Reference: Cigarette price cut 'a scandal', ConnexionFrance.com, 7/5/2010.
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