Doctors call for higher alcohol taxes in France

Doctors in France have called on health minister Agnès Buzyn to raise taxes on alcohol and spend the funds on more awareness campaigns against addiction and excess alcohol consumption.

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This week, a group of French doctors and medical professors sent a letter to Ms Buzyn, asking her to tax alcohol more strongly and raise awareness of the dangers of over-consumption.

Currently, wine is taxed at a maximum of 20%, and spirits at 60%. This brings in €4 billion per year, a sum that has previously been deemed sufficient by lobbyists.

Yet, the cost of healthcare due to alcohol-related illnesses and conditions costs €120 billion nationally.

Campaigners are seeking to remind people that alcohol is the main cause of death for people aged 15-30 in France, and the second-biggest cause of cancer after smoking.

Professor Michel Reynaud, president of addiction fund Fonds Actions Addictions and one of the signatories of the letter to Ms Buzyn, said: “When alcohol producers talk about responsible consumption, they always suggest that we must pass that responsibility on to the consumer.

“But in reality, producers have a social responsibility because they create a dangerous product, which causes much damage. Producers must participate in prevention action too.”

But producers have rejected this claim, and said that higher taxes will not help.

Alexis Capitant, representative of alcoholic drinks producers’ association, Avec Moderation!, said: “The problem with continually rising taxes is that it doesn’t help prevention, and it’s just lining the pockets of the State. It penalises consumers’ spending power, without any proven health benefits.”

Consumers appear less in favour of higher taxes on alcohol too, according to a report by news source France Info.

One woman said: “It won’t make a difference. People who have a problem with alcohol will drink more than they should anyway. [Taxes] will not change things.”

Another woman added: “Higher taxes will just hurt small French producers. I find [the idea] a shame.”

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