The decision not to levy additional taxes on alcohol in the 2024 budget is “a major disappointment”, says the President of the French Federation of Addictology.
It had been widely reported that the French government was considering new taxes on alcohol to help reduce the deficit.
However the move faced immediate opposition, with MoDem deputy (MP) Cyrille Isaac-Sibille, saying that “many MPs, ministers and even people higher up won’t hear a word about increased taxes on alcohol”.
On Wednesday August 22, Prime Minister Elizabeth Borne put the rumour to rest, telling France Bleu: "There is no prospect of raising taxes on alcohol."
This decision has been criticised by the French Federation of Addictology, which had hoped that the increased taxes could have helped wean people off alcohol while reducing the burden of alcohol-related healthcare costs on the social security system.
‘UK has proved tax works’
“It could have been a double success,” said its president Amine Benyamina on FranceInfo, “a good measure for both public health and the economy.”
Mr Benyamina is keen to point out that the UK’s alcohol by volume (ABV) system of taxation “has proved its effectiveness”.
The UK tax on alcohol has increased by another 10% this year. “France could have raised money in the same way and lifted the load off taxpayers in general.”
“Alcohol costs France a lot of money. Alcohol-related illnesses cost France almost Є110billion each year.”
Can taxes reduce alcohol-related deaths?
Mr Benyamina also believes that taxes could have saved lives.
“Before the war in Ukraine Russia increased the price of strong liquors and succeeded in decreasing the number of alcohol-related deaths.”
“But no French government of any political affiliation has had the political courage to establish a real public health policy while supporting the wine industry.”
“We have a very peculiar relationship with alcohol, and with wine in particular.”