France Health Minister Marisol Touraine has revealed that the government is considering following Australia and introducing plain cigarette packaging by 2016 as the country looks to reduce the high smoking rates in under-16s.
Following the successful introduction of plain packs in Australia, which the government there says has reduced consumption, Touraine announced a raft of measures last month to tackle the scourge of smoking, which kills 200 people a day in France.
AdvertisementOne of the main planks of the strategy was plain packaging, which "should be in tobacconists at the beginning of the year 2016", the minister told French radio.
France has one of the highest rates of under-16s smokers in Europe and, in addition to the plain packaging measures, Touraine also announced that smoking would be banned in playgrounds and in cars with passengers under 12.
In 2012, Australia forced all cigarettes to be sold in identical, olive-brown packets bearing the same typeface and largely covered with graphic health warnings.
Touraine's plan is to ensure cigarette packets are "the same shape, same size, same colour, same typeset" to make smoking less attractive to young smokers.
Unlike Australia, however, French brands will remain on the packets "but limited to a very discreet and defined size, always on the same place on the packet," according to the plan.
Touraine also announced the banning of popular electronic cigarettes in certain public places.
Smoking is the main cause of death in France, with 73,000 people dying each year of tobacco-related illnesses.
Approximately 13 million people smoke in France every day out of a total population of around 66 million.
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