A French anti-smoking association, the National Committee Against Tobacco, has filed a case in France accusing makers of Marlboro, Camel, Lucky Strike and Gauloise cigarettes of colluding to limit prices so that smokers would not cut their consumption.
Yves Martinet, president of the National Committee Against Tobacco, said, "The companies cited in the complaint agreed to limit themselves to small increases that in reality are adjustments for inflation, (and) which don't influence the (consumption) of smokers. The four big international tobacco industrials work as a cartel, (and) do all they can so that prices rise in a moderate manner to ensure consumption doesn't fall."
The association's lawyer, Pierre Kopp, said, "The pricing of cigarette is up to individual tobacco manufacturers, apart from mandatory increases, via taxes, regularly imposed by the French state."
There are about 13 million smokers in France, where tobacco-related illness is the leading cause of avoidable death, killing 73,000 people every year. The French public prosecutors have three months to decide whether to open an official inquiry, or dismiss case.