France passes plain tobacco pack law

The French parliament has narrowly passed a law to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes.

The news follows Canada announcing plans to pass laws imposing plain packaging on tobacco products following similar laws in the UK, Australia and Ireland.

The new packaging will be introduced in France from May next year but, as in other countries, the measure has sparked threats of legal action among tobacco companies.

Smoking is the main cause of death in France, with more than 70,000 people dying each year of tobacco-related illnesses.

EU laws already force tobacco firms to cover 65% of the packaging with health warnings, but the French Health Minister Marisol Touraine said that from next year the rest of the packet will be “the same shape, same size, same colour, same typeset”.

Earlier this year the French National Assembly approved an amendment to a bill on health issues that establishes plain cigarette packaging as of 20 May 2016.

France’s tobacconists protested against the proposals by disabling traffic speed cameras.

The radar “hooding” – by covering them with bin liners – was, according to protesters, symbolic of the “cover up” that deprives the government of money in the same way that the anti-smoking legislation will reduce tobacco sales and tax revenue. French tobacconists also dumped four tonnes of carrots outside the ruling Socialist party HQ in Paris.