It is a proven fact, after years of continuous decline in smoking in France, the trend was stopped dead in 2020, according to data from Public Health France published Wednesday May 26. Health context, stress of the population, social crisis and precariousness… Does this state of affairs have a real explanation?
In the midst of a health crisis, smoking particularly affects the most vulnerable. If the agency " Public Health France ”Does not establish a direct link with the Covid-19 crisis, however, concern remains about the causes of the number of smokers which is no longer decreasing and which is worrying.
Last year, more than three adults aged 18-75 in ten declared that they smoke at least occasionally (31,8%) and a quarter daily (25,5%), indicates the health agency before World No Tobacco Day , Monday May 31. This marks a halt after several years of seeing the proportion of smokers drop from 34,5% to 30,4% between 2016 and 2019, and daily smokers drop from 29,4% to 24%.
Public Health France (SpF) qualifies the figures for 2020 as stabilizing, because " the variations in the prevalence of smoking and daily smoking compared to 2019 are generally not significant". On the other hand, the public body notes " a raise " of " smoking among the lowest-income third of the population“, 33,3% of daily smokers against 29,8% in 2019. By contrast, in the third of the population with the highest incomes, only 18% declare themselves daily smokers.
Another element is a source of concern: “ in 2020, 29,9% of daily smokers had attempted to quit for at least a week in the past 12 months", A proportion" down significantly compared to 2019 (33,4%)" page (in French).
These data come from the barometer carried out each year by SpF, a major survey on health issues conducted by telephone among 14.873 people between January and March 2020 and then between June and July of the same year.
For tobacconists and some officials in the "tobacco" sector, confinement would have played a massive role in this stagnation in the number of smokers in France. Indeed, confinement requires, many smokers no longer bought abroad and find themselves counted in French sales. Thus warns an elected tobacconist, some tobacconists increased their sales by 400% during these periods following the inability to go to Luxembourg, Switzerland, Spain or Andorra. It is therefore a safe bet that the number of smokers has not really stagnated but that it is closer this year to reality since it takes into account all smokers in France and not only those who buy in the country.