New France Law to Enforce Same Looking Cigarette Packs


Image courtesy of France Info

-Article by Alice Ferré

After four years of debates and arm wrestling with the tobacco industry and newsagents unions, the French Senate voted for selling “neutral,” same looking packs of cigarettes at the end of November. This hitherto unseen measure in France, offered by Secretary of Health and Human Services Marisol Touraine, aims to dissuade the youth from developing smoking habits and hope to hinder sales.

France is the second country to implement the “neutral” packs, after Australia in December 2012. Adieu camels, eagles, Viking helmets, and legendary fonts. The packs are now of a dark, mud-like green color, and are 65% covered with preventive texts and graphic pictures of diseases warning smokers of consequences of their deadly guilty pleasure (previous packs presented 30% to 40% of pictorial prevention only.) The unattractive aspect of the packs is supposed to influence and modify the behavior and perception of smokers; theoretically, the more repugnant the packaging is, the less prone smokers will be to consume. This supposition is yet to be proven by a potential decrease in sales within the following months. Critics contend this change will instead prompt consumers to buying cigarettes abroad or on the Internet.

Prices have already multiplied by three in the past decade; however, this reform promises another increase which worries many local tobacconists, as one pack of cigarettes may round up around 10 euros in the following years. This will likely spur smokers to buy tobacco from neighboring countries like Italy or Spain, where prices are between 4 or 6 euros. The government itself would also suffer if sales continued to decline: in 2014, it had benefited from 14 billion euros from the tobacco industry.

By January 1, regular packs will no longer be sold.


Calais’ wall


Image courtesy of the Nouvel Ordre Mondial

-Article by Alice Ferré

“One does not respect and represent European values by displaying wire nettings that would not even be used for animals,” claimed former French minister of foreign affairs Laurent Fabius, after Hungary had built a fence on the Serbian border.

Like Hungary, France too has taken steps to prevent trespass across its borders. On December 12, the French city of Calais welcomed a new feature: a wall, one kilometer wide (0,6 mile) and four meters long (13 foot), built of steel and concrete. Last October, the city had dismantled a refugee camp on its outskirts, symbolizing Europe’s creeping fear and panic towards mass immigration.

The wall, standing near the city’s port and separating the former camp from a national highway, aims to prevent migrants from stowing away on merchandise trucks that cross the English channel. The British government itself financed the project in a 23 millions dollars deal struck with France.

Calais’ mayor, right-wing politician Natacha Bouchart, had opposed the construction last October, considering it as “useless” since the camp was dismantled that same month. Defending her viewpoint before the regional courthouse, the mayor did not seem alerted by the ethical concerns the wall produces, sparking conversations about a “wall dilemma” that has shaken other nations and triggered discussions on ethics recently. Rather, her motive is backed by urbanist and environmental concerns that this austere, gray wall may be of great disadvantage for the region’s landscape.

The courthouse rejected her demand to suspend the construction which now stands proudly. Advocates claim reasons for construction are more than a brake on immigration, as the infrastructure will first enhance road security and the drivers’ safety.

Truck drivers are the first affected by the influx of migrants. Indeed, most migrants try to stop traffic so that they can hop on the back of cargo trucks by tossing bags and obstacles on the highway. Such method puts drivers in precarious situations as declared Richard Burnett, head of the Road Halauage Association (RHA): “They now accept that physical threats are just a part of the job.” He thus demands more protections in the surrounding areas of the port, up to a distance of 3 miles.

Currently, drivers are advised not to stop within 240 kilometers (150 miles) of the port.