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France hosts 10-country anti-tobacco conference amid plain package debate

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Representatives of 10 countries met in Paris on Monday to support the use of plain cigarette packets as an effort to fight smoking among young people. Tobacconists sabotaged speed traps overnight in protest at proposed anti-smoking measures.

"The aim that we are pursuing along with some other countries at an international level is a world without tobacco and France's wish is that the generation being born today will be a generation without tobacco," Health Minister Marisol Touraine said before the meeting.

Tobacco-related diseased kill 78,000 people a year in France and are expected to kill eight million a year around the world in 2030 if nothing is done to prevent it, she said.

The conference - the first of its kind - brings together ministers from Australia, which two years ago became the first country to introduce plain packaging, South Africa, Hungary, Ireland, Norway, New Zealand, the UK, Sweden and Uruguay.

A bill to introduce packaging with no logos and of identical colour, size and typography was passed by the lower house of the French parliament in April.

Tobacconists opposed to the measure placed bags over speed-control cameras in parts of the south of France on Monday night.

They have pledged to step up their protests before Wednesday when a Senate committee is due to discuss the bill.

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