Cigarette sales in France plunge as prices climb

27th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 27 (AFP) - Cigarette sales in France slumped 20 percent in the first half of this year after the government introduced steep price hikes in a bid to cut down on smoking related diseases and cancer, according to official figures released Tuesday.

PARIS, July 27 (AFP) - Cigarette sales in France slumped 20 percent in the first half of this year after the government introduced steep price hikes in a bid to cut down on smoking related diseases and cancer, according to official figures released Tuesday.

The Centre of Documentation and Information on Tobacco (CDIT) attributed the sharp decline to "strong increases in the taxation on this product and thus its price".

The cost of a packet of cigarettes in France has jumped around 30 percent since October last year, when the anti-smoking campaign launched by President Jacques Chirac took effect.

The average cost of a packet is now around EUR five (USD six), prompting many French smokers to buy their cigarettes in neighbouring countries where prices are much cheaper, to the anger of French tobacconists in border regions who say they are being put out of business.

In Spain, for instance, the average price for a packet is half as much, and in Italy and Germany it's around 70 percent of that in France.

Only Britain, where an average packet costs GPB 4.45 (EUR 6.73, USD 8.18), is more expensive.

According to the CDIT, 32,265 tonnes of tobacco products were sold in the first six months of 2004, compared to 40,583 tonnes for the same period in 2003.

Cigarettes accounted for more than 80 percent of those products (27,202 tonnes in first-half 2004 versus 36,238 tonnes in first-half 2003), with the figures showing sales of cigars and pouches of tobacco had grown slightly, by14 percent and 18 percent respectively.

Because of the price increases on cigarettes, overall revenue has remained roughly stable, at EUR 7.28 billion for the first half of the year compared to 7.25 billion last year.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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