Most popular cigarettes in France now cost €10 a pack

The cost of one packet of Marlboro cigarettes - the most-sold in France - will reach the symbolic price threshold of €10 on March 1, as the first of two annual government taxes is applied.

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The new 50 centime tax will push the cost of a single packet up to €10. This will rise again on November 1, when the second annual 50 centime tax comes into force.

The new taxes are intended to help reduce smoking rates in France. The new taxes and prices were confirmed in the Journal Officiel, published on February 11, after a government decree from January 31.

In 2017, after the Presidential election, the government ended a four-year period of “stability” on cigarette pack prices.

Taxes rose to bring the price of a single pack up to €8 by March 1, 2018; and has since risen by 50 centime increments twice a year; one in March, one in November.

But even after the price hike, Marlboro will not be the most expensive brand in France. Brown Gauloises from Seita (the French branch of the British group, Imperial Brands) already reached the €10-per-pack threshold on November 1, 2019.

Brown Gitanes also went up to €11 per pack on the same date, up from €10.50 before.

In response to the new taxes, cigarette sales fell by 9.32% in 2018, and by 7.2% in 2019, which proponents have hailed as a success, in a campaign that is aiming to reduce cigarette sales and smoking rates.

But according to sellers and pro-smoking groups, the price hikes have simply strengthened the black market.

Pascal Marbois, director of public affairs at British American Tobacco (BAT) France, told public news service FranceInfo: “More and more illicit tobacco is being seized at customs.”

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