After two years of stable pack prices, cigarettes will rise again. The social security financing bill presented Monday, September 26 in the Council of Ministers provides that the average price of the package, « today from €10.15 »will increase by “50 cents in 2021 and 35 cents in 2024”which the « will increase to 11 € »announced Bercy.
“It would be quite paradoxical for the rise in cigarettes to be lower than inflation”that would mean that « finally, relatively, the price would drop », justified Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne on RMC / BFM TV, on the occasion of the presentation of the draft budget 2023.
When Emmanuel Macron came to power in 2017, the price of a pack of cigarettes was €7 on average. The government of Édouard Philippe then announced that it wanted to gradually increase it to €10. A threshold reached in November 2020.
Leading cause of preventable death
To justify this new increase, the government argued that the tax increase from 2018 to 2020 paid off in terms of public health. She allowed a “unprecedented decline in the consumption of these products: – 22% in volume between 2017 and 2021” and about “two million French people who have stopped smoking since 2017”, according to Public Health France.
The leading cause of preventable death, tobacco causes more than 8 million deaths each year worldwide, and some 73,000 deaths in France. The direct cost amounts to 20 to 26 billion euros per year for health insurance and a « social cost » total (deaths, illnesses, production losses, but also expenditure on prevention, repression and care, for the State) estimated at 120 billion by the French Observatory of Drugs and Drug Addiction.
France at the top of the podium of European countries where cigarettes are the most expensive
Unsurprisingly, cigarette manufacturers protested against this tax increase, highlighting the risk of a jump in illegal sales. Taxation on tobacco brings 13 to 14 billion euros per year to the State, according to Bercy. A year ago, a parliamentary report estimated the shortfall linked to illegal tobacco consumed in France at 3 billion euros – estimated at between 14% and 17% of consumption.
In Europe, France is not the country where tobacco prices are the highest, even if it is at the top of the table after Norway (16 € on average), Ireland and the United Kingdom (14 €).
The neighboring countries (Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain, etc.) fall within the European average with packs of cigarettes between €5 and €7. The countries that sell the cheapest tobacco are in the East, with Bulgaria at the bottom of the podium, where the pack does not even reach 3 €, and Poland (3.20 €).