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Cigarette prices rise above 6 euros

Anti-smoking groups say 6% price increase will not cut smokers, just boost government budget by 600m euros next year


FOR the third year in a row the price of cigarettes has risen and the 6% rise means a pack of the most popular brand, Marlboro, costs 6.20 euros.

Anti-smoking groups say that despite tobacco being responsible for 60,000 deaths a year in France the increase will make no real impact on the number of smokers. They say it has only been introduced to help the government's budget as it will bring in 90 million euros this year and 600m euros next.

Tax makes up 80% of the price of a packet of cigarettes and last year raised 13 billion euros with 10bn euros going to the Secu social security budget. Smoking-related diseases are said to cost the Secu 20bn euros a year.

Prime minister François Fillon has already announced prices will rise by 6% again next year without specifying when.

Although cigarette sales dropped from 54.98bn in 2009 to 54.79bn in 2010 actual tobacco sales increased by 0.14% in volume, the French drug monitoring centre Observatoire des Drogues said. It highlighted an increased volume of loose tobacco sold, rising 4.7% from 7,257 tonnes to 7,598 tonnes over the same time period.

French Customs estimates 20% of the cigarettes smoked in France are not bought through the network of tabacs, with 5% coming in illegally and 15% being bought in neighbouring countries such as Belgium and Spain where prices are up to 30% cheaper.

A study by anti-smoking group Paris Sans Tabac said the number of college age youths (12-15) who smoke daily doubled between 2007 and 2010. It added that girls are now more likely to smoke than boys.

Related stories:
First shock packs appear in stores
Borders paralysed in tobacco protest

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