TOBACCO will be sold in plain packs in France from next year following a narrow vote in the French parliament.
From May next year, all cigarettes will have to be sold in neutral packaging of uniform size and colour, similar to the legislation introduced in Australia three years ago.
The United Kingdom and Ireland have since passed plain packaging laws.
Logos will be removed and the brand name will only appear in a small, uniform typeface.
Tobacconists have protested loudly against the latest measures, threatening legal challenges while indicating they favour “prevention, not punishment” for smokers.
Some politicians, many of them conservatives representing rural areas, have said the new law goes beyond European legislation and say tobacconists have a “social link”with local communities.
Gille Lurton from the right-wing opposition Republicans said by passing the legislation, parliament was “only inciting consumers to obtain their supplies on the parallel market,” while other colleagues warned it could kill to commerce in rural areas.
“The vote on France’s plain packaging law was a very close call. It got passed by just two votes! Now it passes to the Senate with the debate set to take place on the 9th or 10th of December,” said Mike Ridgway, Director of the Consumer Packaging Manufacturers Association.
“It’s expected to pass and then it will return to the Assemblée Nationale. Sources in Brussels expect it to be fully approved by Christmas. It should then be implemented by May 2016.
“The packaging industry believes it would be a mistake to blight a sophisticated high-tech section of the French’s manufacturing base by adopting a policy that has failed to improve public health, loses the exchequer revenue and in fact may have the opposite effect by opening up further the illicit supply chain to vulnerable and young people.”