The assault on lifestyle freedoms that began under Hollande’s Socialist government shows no sign of abating under President Macron. There is a full ban on tobacco advertising and a near-total ban on e-cigarette advertising. The latter is only legal in vape shops. There is also an extensive ban on smoking in bars, restaurants and workplaces (some smoking rooms are permitted). Smoking is banned in cars carrying passengers under the age of 18 and, in 2018, Paris and Strasbourg started banning smoking in public parks. There has even been talk of banning the depiction of smoking in films, a proposal that was welcomed by the European Commission.

A tobacco display ban is in place and France is one of four EU countries to have introduced plain packaging. Large increases in tobacco taxation in the last decade have left the French with the second highest cigarette duty in the EU after adjusting for income and the third highest in cash terms. Heat-not-burn tobacco is also taxed at a high rate in France: €21.5/kg plus 48.1% of retail sales price ad valorem. Despite very high rates of tobacco duty and a slew of other anti-smoking policies, France’s smoking rate is higher than that of more liberal neighbours, such as Germany and Luxembourg.

In July 2018, France changed its system of taxing soft drinks. It had previously levied a tax of €0.0753 per litre on all sweetened drinks and energy drinks, including low calorie varieties. It now taxes sweetened drinks which contain no sugar at a lower rate of €0.03 per litre and this rate rises in proportion to sugar content. For example, a litre of a drink which has five grams of sugar per 100ml is taxed at €0.055 per litre and a drink with 10g/100ml is taxed at €0.135. Free refills of soft drinks in restaurants were banned in January 2017.

All television adverts for food that is processed or contains added sugar, fat, sweeteners and/or salt must be accompanied by a message from the National Institute of Health Education (eg. ‘For your health, avoid snacking between meals’). A 2004 ban on sweets and sugary drinks being sold from vending machines had no effect on children’s calorie intake[1]. Undeterred by failure, the government banned all food and drink vending machines from schools in 2017.

The French government considered a ban on vaping in public places in 2013 but decided against it. Vaping is currently legal in bars and restaurants but since October 2017 it has been prohibited in educational institutions, public transport and open plan offices. People who flout the ban can be fined between €35 and €150. In places where vaping is permitted, legislation obliges the owner to put up a sign telling customers what their vaping policy is.

Although per capita alcohol consumption in France has been falling since the 1970s, it remains amongst the highest in the world. In 1991, France introduced some of the world’s most restrictive laws on alcohol advertising, banning it entirely on television and heavily restricting what companies can say about their product in other media. Some radio advertising is permitted but only late at night. These laws were intended to reduce underage drinking and ‘le binge drinking’ (the English term is commonly used) but failed. The government subsequently raised the purchasing age (to 18) and introduced a law making it illegal to encourage binge drinking.

It is not all bad news, however. Of the 14 EU countries that tax wine, France has the lowest rate – just €0.03 per bottle.

With thanks to Institut Économique Molinari

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29320810

About

The Nanny State Index (NSI) is a league table of the worst places in the European Union to eat, drink, smoke and vape. The initiative was launched in March 2016 and was a media hit right across Europe. It is masterminded and led by IEA’s Christopher Snowdon with partners from all over Europe.

Enquiries: info@epicenternetwork.eu

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About the Editor

Christopher Snowdon is the head of Lifestyle Economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs. His research focuses on lifestyle freedoms, prohibition and policy-based evidence. He is a regular contributor to the Spectator Health blog and often appears on TV and radio discussing social and economic issues.

Snowdon’s work encompasses a diverse range of topics including ‘sin taxes’, state funding of charities, happiness economics, ‘public health’ regulation, gambling and the black market. Recent publications include ‘Drinking, Fast and Slow’‘The Proof of the Pudding: Denmark’s Fat Tax Fiasco’‘The Crack Cocaine of Gambling?’‘The Wages of Sin Taxes’‘Drinking in the Shadow Economy’‘Sock Puppets: How the government lobbies itself and why’ and ‘Closing Time: Who’s killing the British pub?’. He is also the author of ‘Selfishness, Greed and Capitalism’ (2015), ‘The Art of Suppression’ (2011), ‘The Spirit Level Delusion’ (2010), ‘Velvet Glove, Iron Fist’ (2009) and Killjoys (2017).


France 2019

The assault on lifestyle freedoms that began under Hollande’s Socialist government shows no sign of abating under President Macron. There is a full ban on tobacco advertising and a near-total ban on e-cigarette advertising. The latter is only legal in vape shops. There is also an extensive ban on smoking in bars, restaurants and workplaces (some smoking rooms are permitted). Smoking is banned in cars carrying passengers under the age of 18 and, in 2018, Paris and Strasbourg started banning smoking in public parks. There has even been talk of banning the depiction of smoking in films, a proposal that was welcomed by the European Commission.

A tobacco display ban is in place and France is one of four EU countries to have introduced plain packaging. Large increases in tobacco taxation in the last decade have left the French with the second highest cigarette duty in the EU after adjusting for income and the third highest in cash terms. Heat-not-burn tobacco is also taxed at a high rate in France: €21.5/kg plus 48.1% of retail sales price ad valorem. Despite very high rates of tobacco duty and a slew of other anti-smoking policies, France’s smoking rate is higher than that of more liberal neighbours, such as Germany and Luxembourg.

In July 2018, France changed its system of taxing soft drinks. It had previously levied a tax of €0.0753 per litre on all sweetened drinks and energy drinks, including low calorie varieties. It now taxes sweetened drinks which contain no sugar at a lower rate of €0.03 per litre and this rate rises in proportion to sugar content. For example, a litre of a drink which has five grams of sugar per 100ml is taxed at €0.055 per litre and a drink with 10g/100ml is taxed at €0.135. Free refills of soft drinks in restaurants were banned in January 2017.

All television adverts for food that is processed or contains added sugar, fat, sweeteners and/or salt must be accompanied by a message from the National Institute of Health Education (eg. ‘For your health, avoid snacking between meals’). A 2004 ban on sweets and sugary drinks being sold from vending machines had no effect on children’s calorie intake[1]. Undeterred by failure, the government banned all food and drink vending machines from schools in 2017.

The French government considered a ban on vaping in public places in 2013 but decided against it. Vaping is currently legal in bars and restaurants but since October 2017 it has been prohibited in educational institutions, public transport and open plan offices. People who flout the ban can be fined between €35 and €150. In places where vaping is permitted, legislation obliges the owner to put up a sign telling customers what their vaping policy is.

Although per capita alcohol consumption in France has been falling since the 1970s, it remains amongst the highest in the world. In 1991, France introduced some of the world’s most restrictive laws on alcohol advertising, banning it entirely on television and heavily restricting what companies can say about their product in other media. Some radio advertising is permitted but only late at night. These laws were intended to reduce underage drinking and ‘le binge drinking’ (the English term is commonly used) but failed. The government subsequently raised the purchasing age (to 18) and introduced a law making it illegal to encourage binge drinking.

It is not all bad news, however. Of the 14 EU countries that tax wine, France has the lowest rate – just €0.03 per bottle.

With thanks to Institut Économique Molinari

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29320810

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