THE NUMBER of smokers has risen in France for the first time since the early 1990s, with the rise mainly among women aged 45-65, the unemployed and early school-leavers.
Now 28.7 per cent of the population smoke and anti-smoking groups blame the rise on the failure to increase tobacco prices high enough to discourage buyers (prices are set to rise six per cent on November 8).
However, health minister Roselyne Bachelot said the increase was down to the double effect of a rise in women smokers and the effects of the “crise”.
Figures from the Institut National de Prévention et d'Education pour la Santé (Inpes) showed nearly 50 per cent of the jobless smoked; Ms Bachelot said it would not be right to raise prices during the economic crisis as it would “penalise even more” the unemployed and the socially disadvantaged.
For the past two decades, France has mirrored the European trend for falling tobacco sales and there was a large fall in 2003-04 after a large increase in tobacco price. Now, however, sales have risen two percentage points since 2005.
Some good news from the Inpes figures showed there were fewer young men smoking and that the number of cigarettes smoked each day dropped from more than 15 to under 14.
The number of those who smoke more than 10 a day also fell and Ms Bachelot said this was owing to the ban on smoking in public places.
However, she said the law on smoking on cafes and restaurant terraces was not being respected and added that tabacs should also heed the law on selling tobacco to minors.
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