A million French smokers quit in 2017 thanks to anti-smoking campaigns

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There are now a million fewer people in France lighting up tobacco products than there were between 2016 and 2017. This is a staggering amount of people who have suddenly decided to kick the bad habit — a change the likes of which hasn’t been seen in over a decade, a Public Health France official said. This significant decline can be attributed to commendable anti-smoking measures supported by the government.

Some of these measures include neutral packaging, reimbursements for people using tobacco substitutes, higher cigarette pricing, and campaigns like the national tobacco-free month. Arguably, the most important detractor for smoking is the government’s escalating cigarette pricing. The plan is to hike the price of a pack of cigarettes to €10 ($12) by 2020.

The bulk of the people who quit smoking last year in France were teenagers and low-income individuals.

“Tobacco is a trajectory of inequality, it weighs particularly on the most disadvantaged and it gets worse,” said France’s Health Minister Agnès Buzy, who welcomed the results.

According to the survey carried out by Public Health France, 26.9% of 18- to 75-year-olds smoked every day in 2017, whereas the figure stood at 29.4% a year earlier. This amounts to a drop from 13.2 million smokers to 12.2 million over the surveyed period.

Despite the encouraging trend, there are still way too many people smoking tobacco — which is the number one risk factor for lung cancer, responsible for 87 percent of lung cancer deaths. Smoking is also responsible for causing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, stroke, asthma, diabetes, premature underweight babies, macular degeneration, and over 10 other types of cancer.

Quitting smoking now is the single best thing you can do for your health for immediate results. Unfortunately, although the percentage of people who smoke has dropped significantly in the last 25 years, due to population increase there are now more people smoking than at any other moment in history. 

According to one study carried out by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, there are one billion people smoking tobacco products daily. The researchers concluded that more than one in ten deaths were due to smoking in 2015. Half of all these preventable deaths occurred in China, India, the U.S., and Russia. These 6.4 million deaths which were attributed to smoking represent a 4.7% increase from 2005. In other words, despite our best efforts, more people are dying from smoking than ever.

“Greater success in tobacco control is possible but requires effective, comprehensive, and adequately implemented and enforced policies, which might in turn require global and national levels of political commitment beyond what has been achieved during the past 25 years,” the researchers conclude.

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