France’s love affair with cigarettes could go up in smoke

PARIS – The glamorous image of cool Parisians lighting up Gauloises while lingering at an outdoor cafe may soon go up in smoke. The French government is usually stubbing out the country’s love affair with tobacco.

“In France, tobacco kills 0 people every day,” Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said in May. “We need to continue This kind of fight against one of the biggest scourges of public health.”

In recent years, France has moved to feature gruesome photos of diseased lungs on cigarette packs, among additional deterrent measures such as government reimbursement of cessation aids. Steep taxes are on track to push the cost of a pack of cigarettes through about $9 to $12 by 2020.

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The measures appear to be working.

The number of daily smokers in France dropped to 12.2 million last year through 13.2 million in 2016, according to the latest figures released in May by the French Health Ministry.

Still, 27 percent of the French continue to light up daily, one of the highest rates of smoking within the European Union, behind Greece as well as Bulgaria. Sweden has the lowest proportion at 7 percent, according to the EU.

within the USA, 14 percent of the population smokes cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control as well as Prevention.

“We must drop down to the rates of Anglo-Saxon countries, to around 15-16 percent,” Buzyn said.

which’s not an easy goal in France, since the item would certainly mean changing the long-entrenched cafe culture the French seem reluctant to give up.

Tucked within the residential neighborhood behind Montmartre Hill – an area once frequented by Pablo Picasso as well as additional artists – is usually the 1930s-era cafe La Renaissance, known by residents for its laid-back atmosphere as well as by movie buffs for being featured in Quentin Tarantino’s film “Inglourious Basterds.”

No matter the weather, the outdoor tables are always packed with customers puffing away while chatting with friends or watching the globe go by.

Since smoking was outlawed inside public spaces in 2007, smokers have had to light up outdoors, though some venues allow smokers to indulge in their habit inside after officially closing for the day.

“Smoking is usually one of life’s pleasures as well as part of the ritual of meeting among friends,” said Benjamin Gourio, 44, a communication consultant who said he has no plans to give up his two-pack-a-day habit. “I have been smoking since I was 16. the item was pleasurable to meet with friends after school as well as have a smoke.”

His sister, Sylvie Gourio, 46, has no regrets about quitting her pack-a-day habit, which she started off while in high school, like many in France. “I had to stop smoking, because I didn’t have a choice. My doctor warned me I faced living with respiratory failure if I didn’t give up,” she said.

Two years ago, she began a program that has a government-backed organization which offers free support to quit smoking. The group offers regular counseling sessions, nicotine patches as well as chewing gum.

As a result, she has been smoke-free ever since as well as discovered a few unexpected benefits.

“I have recovered my sense of smell. the item’s nice to be able to smell freshly baked bread at the boulangerie,” she said, referring to France’s smaller bakeries. “I have also taken up sports, like running, swimming as well as judo, which in a way have replaced my cigarette addiction.”

the item’s a trend which increasingly resonates with French urban millennials, who are far more health-oriented as well as environmentally aware than older generations. Vegan as well as gluten-free cafes, along with juice bars are fast replacing traditional bistros as favorite hangouts in Paris. These days the item’s not unheard of to swap a leisurely lunch – once a staple of French life – to go to the gym.

“The fresh generations have a different attitude as well as will change the image of the 1960s French, sitting at a cafe that has a drink as well as a cigarette,” said Christophe Cutarella, an addiction psychiatrist as well as member of the scientific board at the Ramsay Generale de Sante Foundation, a hospital group.

The adjustments in behavior are reflected within the declining number of younger smokers. Last year, the number of male smokers ages 18 to 24 dropped to 35%, compared with 44% in 2016.

Whipping out a cigarette has become less cool, said Emmanuelle Beguinot, director of anti-smoking association CNCT.

“Even if tobacco consumption remains important in France,” she said, “its image is usually not what the item used to be.”

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