The government announced Monday (March 25th) that 600,000 daily smokers had quit in the first six months of 2018.
Since 2016, 1.6 million people have stopped smoking in France.
Life without tobacco. This is now a reality for 600,000 people who, during the first six months of 2018, gave up their daily consumption. Good news announced by Matignon just before an interdepartmental committee on health, Monday, March 25.
Since 2016, no less than 1.6 million daily smokers have stopped smoking in France. " This is a real victory that shows that it is possible to fight effectively against this drug provided you show a real political will and take a set of well coordinated measures "Says Professor Yves Martinet, a pulmonologist at the University Hospital of Nancy and President of the National Committee against Smoking.
A steady decline in France
Tobacco consumption has been falling steadily in France for several years now. In 2016, among people aged 18-75, there were 29.4% daily smokers. In 2017, this figure dropped to 26.9%. Over a year, there were one million fewer daily smokers.
"This is the first time that such a decline has been observed for a decade," indicated last May Public Health France. The result is not yet available for the whole year 2018 but the dynamic has continued with 600,000 smokers daily less in the first half.
Tobacco kills more and more women
A first positive index was noted last January with the figures of Logista, supplier of almost all points of sale of tobacco in France. The company said that in 2018, 40.23 billion cigarettes were issued to tobacconists against 44.36 billion in 2017, a decrease of 9.32%. In 2017, the decline was only 1.48%. Sales of rolling tobacco, which is very popular with young people, fell by 9.40% in 2018, whereas they had already decreased by 5.66% in 2017.
A drop in the disadvantaged
It is still too early to know precisely the profile of people who gave up smoking in the first six months of 2018. The sharp decline, recorded between 2016 and 2017, particularly affected men aged 18 to 24 and women of 55 to 64 years old. But anti-smoking activists have also welcomed the fact that smoking has decreased among people with the lowest levels of education and income, as well as among job-seekers. "This is the first time since 2000 that the prevalence of daily smoking has decreased among the most disadvantaged smokers", stresses Public Health France. Over one year, between 2016 and 2017, the number of daily smokers increased from 49.7% to 43.5% among the unemployed. This is important because smoking remains a major factor of social inequalities in health.
In the face of tobacco, social inequalities remain strong in France
This continuous decline is linked to a set of strong measures initiated in 2016. The first was the introduction of the neutral package, implemented gradually before becoming mandatory in January 2017. Another measure was the increase of the package management of nicotine substitutes (patches, gums, tablets …).
As of November 2016, Medicare reimbursed € 150 per year to anyone using these substitutes against € 50 previously. This certainly paid off as between 2016 and 2017, there was a 28.5% increase in sales of smoking cessation aids. This package of 150 € disappeared at the end of 2018. From now on, the substitutes are refundable like the other drugs. A third measure was the introduction at the end of 2016 of the annual "One month without tobacco" operation. As of this first year, 380,000 stopping attempts had been recorded.
"France is still a bad pupil in Europe".
" But the most effective against tobacco is the significant increase and continuing price ", says Professor Martinet, welcoming the voluntarism of Agnès Buzyn, who still plans to pass the package to € 10 in November 2020. " This is very positive but there is still a lot to do. In terms of smoking, France is still a bad student in Europe: we are still at a prevalence of 25% daily smokers against only 15% in Britain ", Laments Professor Martinet.
" And above all, it is essential that the tobacconists respect the prohibition of sale to minors. Because too many young people still very easily get this hard drug that is tobacco. And studies have shown that, of teens who start smoking "just to see," two out of three will later become daily smokers. "Says the doctor.