The days when smoking was irresistibly cool (as epitomised by Jean-Paul Belmondo above in a scene from “Breathless/A Bout de Souffle“, 1960)seem to be gone forever.
Even in France, the trend is only in one direction and from the 1st of January 2014, the cost of a packet of cigarettes is going to cross the €7 threshold.
While it’s still cheap compared to the equivalent cost in Ireland (approximately €9.50, of which 78% is tax), like wine, the cigarette was for many decades considered something of a sacrosanct bastion of the working man that should not be messed with.
Officially, the issue has not been decided yet, but the dogs on the street seem to know that the government has already rubber-stamped the decision in accordance with tobacco manufacturers to increase the retail cost of a pack of 20 fags by 30c.
The big players in the tobacco industry in France – British American Tobacco (Lucky Strike), Japan Tobacco (Winston) and Imperial Tobacco (Gauloise) – are keen to recuperate the recently-announced VAT rise (from 19.6% to 20%) and have allegedly insisted on a price rise of 30 cents. This also means that their other main competitor brand (namely Philip Morris’ Marlboro) will see the price of their product go from €6.80 to €7.10.
The people in customs and excise are also pushing for a 30c rise in the price of cigarettes. “Both customs and the tobacco companies have the same interest – increase the prices so as to make for the fall in sales,” said one industry expert in the weekly Journal du Dimanche. In 2013, cigarette sales fell back by 9% nationally.