Tuesday, October 21, 2003

French strike over cigarette prices

Only the French would strike over cigarette prices. Small tobacconists are complaining that a 25% price rise will hit there earnings and may encourage people to stop smoking. "The government says loud and clear that it wants the day to come when there is not a single smoker left in France," said Rene Le Pape, president of the confederation. (of tobacconists).

In other countries, i.e. the UK, we just grumble a bit, some stop others carry on, and more turn to the black market. Ironic really that we are always told it is the UK that is out of line with taxes, but it seems half of Europe sell a packet of fags for as low as £1.20 compared to £4.70 in the UK and (now) £3.00 in France. There is no doubt that higher prices are an incentive for some to stop smoking, and France needs to be taking action in a country where 42% of adults smoke.

It just seems to fly in the face of the Frenchman's (and woman's) view that they are autonomous individuals detached from the state. But I don’t think you would see British tobacconists flinging boxes of fags into street fires to defend their rights.