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France

France bans glamorous cigarette names

media Not so chic - cigarettes in anti-cancer packages on sale in Paris AFP

France has banned the sale of cigarettes with "glamorous" names, following the introduction of neutral packets as part of the government's efforts to reduce smoking, a habit that costs more than two million lives a year, according to a study published Tuesday.

The manufacturers of the Vogue, Corset, Fine and Allure brands of cigarettes will have to find new names for their products, Health Minister Marisol Touraine said on Tuesday.

A decree to be published on Wednesday will ban brand names that "give the impression that it is chic to smoke", she told RTL radio, adding that such presentation "is obviously not in the spirit of neutral packaging".

The makers of the Café crème, Paradiso and Punch cigars and cigarillos will have two years to make the change, while cigarette manufacturers will have just a year.

Names that refer to finesse or slenderness, like "slim" and superslim", will also be banned in the anti-cancer drive, as will ones that imply energy-boosting properties, for example Pall Mall Boost, say they are biodegradable or organic, or mention fruit or herbs, like menthol.

Rolling tobacco price to rise

Anti-smoking campaign DNF hailed an "excellent decision" that would help fight a "deadly product".

The Franco-Spanish company Seita, which make Fine, called it "arbitrary", claiming that it "aims to stigmatise consumers who make the choice to smoke even more".

Philip Morris declined to comment until the decree had been published.

The decree will also raise the price of rolling tobacco by about 1.50 euros, Touraine said.

Taxes have already been raised for cigarettes but companies have not passed them on to consumers in an effort to maintain sales, she admitted.

"I won't give up," she declared. "The price of tobacco is important for public health."

Two million deaths a year

Cigarette sales in France fell 1.2 percent in 2016 after rising in 2015.

The country is lagging behind its European neighbours, according to Bertrand Dautzenberg of the official anti-smoking body OFT.

Neutral packaging, an "no smoking month" in November and the spread of electronic cigarettes have pushed sales down, he said.

Smoking was responsible for just over two million deaths among 30-69-year-olds worldwide in 2012, according to a study by the World Health Organisation and the American Cancer Society published Tuesday.

It cost the world economy 1.3 trillion euros in health care and lost production due to illness and death, 40 percent of the burden falling on developing countries.

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