Put up no-smoking signs outside French schools, says anti-cancer group

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An anti-cancer campaign group has called for the creation of smoke-free zones in some 60,000 schools in France in an effort to “de-normalize” smoking among young people.

La Ligue contre le cancer organization says putting up no-smoking signs in front of schools will reduce secondhand smoke, as well as prevent young people from normalizing smoking by seeing people with cigarettes.

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“We want an ordinance that draws a straight line from what is already law in public spaces and play areas,” Jana Dimitrova, the group’s prevention director, told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper.

The group is calling for the rule to be implemented around more schools in France.

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It is already in force in some cities and towns, including Bordeaux, Lyon, Colmar and Doubs.

“The school is a site for a lot of learning, and also where we should set an example, where parents should also set an example,” explained Pauline Grosjean, director of the nursery and schools in the 2nd arrondissement of Lyon.

She said the idea was to protect children and try to prevent them from becoming smokers.

Will smokers who break the law get fines or warnings?

In theory, they could; But in practice, this is rarely used.

Ms Grosjean said the penalties for parents who break the rule in Lyon are “essentially symbolic. We’re not talking about oppression, we’re concerned with education. Making sure parents keep in mind that in front of the school, near the children, we don’t smoke.”

The mayor of Colmar, Eric Stroman said: “It is clear that the goal is not a reprimand but a sign and a decision of the school board, putting pressure on parents who come with their children, who are waiting for them outside school.”

“Fining people is legally possible, but the social pressure is enough I think,” he added.

“Municipal ordinances often allow for penalties, but in reality, we have never had to fine anyone,” said Ricardo Dominguez, a member of the Ligue 1 cancer commission in Gard.

Is this rule effective?

While some welcome the rule, some suggest that it is not the right way to go.

Jean-Francois Trabi, Vice President of Parents’ Union, National Federation of Independent Associations of Student Parents, said: [education] Campaigns, which means events in schools with associations of parents and pupils, with teachers, with the Association Against Cancer.

“We should chat, explain what we’re doing, and show pictures.”

But Ms. Dimitrova defended the measure, saying: “The non-normalizing characteristic acts directly on smoking habits, especially among young people. It is a measure analyzed in various studies, which shows that this measure is effective for protecting young people.”

“200,000 young people try cigarettes for the first time every year and two out of three will remain smokers,” Daniel Nezri, president of the French League Against Cancer, told FranceInfo at the weekend.

He said the data suggest that “more than 30% of cancers are caused by tobacco.”

The high rate of young smokers in France

It comes as figures show that young people in France are still at risk of becoming smokers early in life.

The greatest risk exists for people under the age of 20, said Dr Damien Maskrett, a physician and journalist at France Télévisions.

He said, “Below the age of twenty is the moment when we are most likely to become addicted to tobacco. If we go past the age of twenty, the chances of us becoming addicted decrease.”

No smoking month

La Ligue contre le cancer has launched the call for smoke-free zones to coincide with ‘No Smoking Month’, which began on November 1.

Launched in 2016, this initiative aims to raise awareness about the dangers of smoking, and encourage people in France to quit the habit.

Since 2016, more than 900,000 people have participated. This year, 52,000 people signed up a month, pledging to try to quit smoking.

You can register to join the month and receive help from a smoking cessation specialist via the website, by calling 3989 in France, or downloading the Tabac info app.

“Recruiting a health professional improves your chance of success in quitting smoking by 70%,” says Santé publique France. The chances of stopping for good also increase fivefold once you reach the 30-day mark.

Smoking in France: Key Statistics

  • 17 million people in France smoke, or about 23%. This is the highest percentage in Western Europe.

  • In 2020, more than 30% of adults said they were regular smokers (31.8% of 18-75 years old).

  • Cigarette smoking decreased every year from 2014 to 2019.

  • In contrast, daily tobacco consumption between 2019 and 2020 increased by three percentage points among low-income people.

  • Men smoke slightly more than women (36.2% of men versus 27.7% of women).

  • On average, the average adult consumes 13 cigarettes per day; Just over half a pack.

  • Women smoke slightly less per day (11) than men (14).

  • The average age to smoke your first cigarette is 14.4 years.

  • Only about 5% of the population uses e-cigarettes.

death and cancer

  • 75,000 deaths annually in France are directly related to smoking.

  • 27% of cancers are directly related to smoking (lungs, throat, mouth, lips, pancreas).

  • Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in France.

  • Regular smokers are twice as likely to die prematurely from their habit.

However, smoking is declining in France.

  • Increasing numbers are trying to quit smoking; More than a third of smokers were prosecuted for at least one week in 2019.

  • 1.9 million people have stopped smoking since 2014.

  • Between 2017-2020, the country fell from third to tenth place in the European Union in terms of the number of smokers.

  • It is now behind nine Eastern European countries including Greece, Bulgaria and Croatia.

  • However, it is still ranked first in Western Europe.

  • Tobacco consumption among young people is declining; In 2014, a third said they smoke every day, but in 2017 that number dropped to a quarter.

Figures compiled by FranceInter from the sources of Santé publique France, the French Observatory on Drugs and Addictions.

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