French lawmakers want fund to help sick smokers

15th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

French lawmakers on Tuesday tasked the government with studying how to set up a fund, financed by the tobacco industry, to compensate sick smokers.

The government should by the end of next year look into such a fund, which lawmakers suggested could be financed by a 10 percent tax on the sales in France of tobacco companies -- in 2010, that would have brought in 2.1 billion euros.

The study was included in an amendment to the 2012 budget proposed by two lawmakers from the ruling UMP party which was approved on Tuesday. Lawmakers were expected to complete approval of the budget by the end of this week.

The proponents of the fund said it should be open to people whose health has been damaged by smoking as well as the relatives of anyone who has died from a smoking-related disease.

The lawmakers noted an increase in smoking rates in France despite government efforts to discourage the practice and help people stop, and that it remains the leading avoidable cause of death in the country, claiming more than 60,000 lives every year.

Anti-tobacco groups welcomed the move.

The creation of a compensation fund is "legitimate, morally and economically viable," said Yves Martinet, head of the Alliance Against Tobacco.

© 2011 AFP

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