CIGARETTE prices in France will remain unchanged in the new year, after MPs voted to throw out a planned 30 centime rise.
The move by the National Assembly comes after intense lobbying by tobacconists and manufacturers.
The automatic tax rise had been due to come into force on January 1, but has now been struck out by an amendment to the law.
It means the cheapest pack of 20 cigarettes will stay at €6.50, with the more expensive brands around €7.
Socialist MP Razzy Hammadi said if the increase had been applied, it would have widened the price gap between French cigarettes and those in neighbouring EU states - which would have encouraged more smokers to buy abroad.
Tabac owners in the south-east of France staged a demonstration at the La Turbie motorway tolls - the last on the A8 motorway before the Italian border - to protest about cross-border cigarette buying.
The price freeze comes just three months after the government declared "war on smoking" with a hard-hitting list of new measures.
The plans included neutral packaging, a smoking ban in cars if children under 12 are present and extra state reimbursement for anti-smoking products.