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Decrease in cross-border tobacco purchases despite intensification of antitobacco policies in France
  1. Ramchandar Gomajee,
  2. Hugo Torregrossa,
  3. Camille Bolze,
  4. Maria Melchior,
  5. Fabienne El-Khoury Lesueur
  1. INSERM U1136, Institut Pierre Louis d'Epidémiologie et de Santé Publique, Sorbonne Université, Paris, France
  1. Correspondence to Mr Ramchandar Gomajee, INSERM U1136, Institut Pierre Louis d'Epidémiologie et de Santé Publique, Sorbonne Université, Paris 75012, France; ramchandar.gomajee{at}


Background Recently, France has intensified tobacco control policies which included gradual increase in tobacco product price and the introduction of plain packaging. However, there has been suggestion that cross-border tobacco purchases from neighbouring countries, with lower tobacco prices, will increase. We examine trends in cross-border tobacco purchases among smokers concurrent with the implementation of tobacco control measures between 2016 and 2017.

Methods Description des Perceptions, Images, et Comportements liés au Tabagisme is a two-wave cross-sectional national telephone survey of French adults aged 18–64 years, which recruited a total of 2167 smokers (2016: n=1238; 2017: n=929). Data were weighted to be representative of the French adult population. The association between study wave and cross-country tobacco purchases was examined across study waves using a multivariable logistic regression model (adjusted ORs: ORa (95% CI)).

Results Less than half (38.5%) of smokers declared cross-border tobacco purchases in the last year, which were mostly done on occasional basis: 22.6% purchased tobacco cross-border once or twice yearly. In 2017, as compared with 2016, cross-border tobacco purchases by French smokers decreased (ORa=0.81, 95% CI 0.68 to 0.98). Other factors associated with cross-border tobacco purchases included sex, and driving distance to a border.

Conclusion In France, the increase in tobacco product price and the introduction of plain packaging did not contribute to increasing rates of out-of-country purchases of tobacco products, probably due to the overall decrease in smoking levels. However, a harmonisation of tobacco product prices and plain packaging policies across Europe might further improve tobacco control throughout the continent.

  • smoking topography
  • packaging and labelling
  • public policy
  • price
  • surveillance and monitoring

Statistics from


  • Contributors FEKL designed the study, monitored the data collection, cleaned and analysed the data. She is the guarantor of the study. MM designed the study and monitored the data collection. CB monitored the data collection and cleaned the data. HT analysed the data. RG monitored the data collection, analysed the data and drafted the manuscript. All the authors were involved in the data analysis and in revising the final paper.

  • Funding This work was supported by a grant from the French National Cancer Institute (INCa) (Subvention No 2016-097).

  • Disclaimer The funders of the study had no role in study design, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation, writing of the report or in the decision to submit the article for publication.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval DePICT was approved by the ethical review committee of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM, CEEI-IRB 00003888).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request.

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