Smoking in the UK - A brief study on the UK Government's current plans to get smokers to quit

Essay by lorismith February 2004

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How times have changed. Smoking used to be something all the cool kids did, with peer pressure claiming another crop of nicotine addicts behind the bike sheds every year, but increasingly it is becoming only something the rich kids are able to do. After the introduction of large EU health warnings onto cigarette packets across Europe in January this year failed to have the right effect, the French Government has decided to raise the tax on tobacco by a staggering 20% with worse to follow. Although the main aim is to raise money for healthcare and prop up next year's budget, the French Prime Minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, claims that the step is to clamp down on smoking and the illness it causes. So far the tobacconists have been extremely resistant to this first price rise with a day of strikes taking place across the country, but only time will tell if the extra cost is too much for France's 15 million smokers.

Will this be where the tables turn on our cross-channel friends? For years many of us have popped over to France to stock up on some very unhealthy 'essentials' and have also made the most of our duty free allowance on longer haul trips, but now it looks like the former will no longer be an option. With another price rise due in January next year, French cigarettes will almost be as costly as those in Britain but will this be enough of an incentive for people to quit? Smokers in the UK have learned to live with the new health warnings that cover one third of the front of every packet and, for those who can't, some enterprising people are even selling stickers to cover them and alternative packets without the stark messages. As very few...