France shed 1 million daily smokers in 2017: Health Ministry | News | DW | 29.05.2018

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France shed 1 million daily smokers in 2017: Health Ministry

French authorities are hoping to continue the downward trend with an ambitious strategy against tobacco use. Even Parisians have started to kick the habit, according to the Health Ministry.

France's Health Ministry has announced that the country had 1 million fewer smokers in 2017 compared to the year before.

Daily smoking in France dropped from 29.4 percent of the population in 2016 to 26.9 percent in 2017, marking a difference of 2.5 percentage points, according to a ministry report published Monday.

The ministry-run public health agency credited its National Tobacco Reduction Plan (PNRT), a strategy drawn up in 2016 to combat tobacco use in France, with the successful reduction in tobacco use. Ile-de-France, where Paris is located, was the region with one of the lowest numbers of daily smokers.

The drop was also significant for disadvantaged smokers, including low-income and unemployed French. The decline was most notable in men between the ages of 18 and 24, and women aged 55 to 64. The groups witnessed a decline of 9 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

Read more: Percentage of smokers drops, but tobacco deaths rise: study

'Possible to fight against smoking'

As part of the PNRT, French authorities have developed apps, hotlines and an information service aimed at helping the country's smokers ditch the habit.

"This historic decline proves to everyone that it is possible to fight against smoking through coherent and integrated actions," said Francois Bourdillon, who serves as director general of the public health agency.

Read more: Smoking leaves genetic 'signatures' far from lungs

According to the World Health Organization, tobacco use kills more than 6 million people annually, with roughly 80 percent of the world's 1.1 billion smokers living in low- or middle-income countries.

"The tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced," according to the WHO.

Flyers in French urging people to quit smoking

Since 2016, France has implemented an ambitious strategy aimed at stopping the use of tobacco

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