With a reduction in smoking as the goal, the fight against tobacco has led to increasingly heavy taxation and ever-tighter restrictions on the sale and consumption of cigarettes. If the public authorities continue along this path aimed at “denormalising” the tobacco industry, the question of prohibition or nationalisation is likely to end up sooner or later as the heart of the debate.
Imposing generic packaging — something that has gone into force in Australia and is contained in proposed legislation, particularly in France — amounts to nothing less than “nationalisation” — in all but name — of cigarette packaging. The idea of nationalising the tobacco industry will come to appear less preposterous as anti- tobacco groups bring it up openly, in any case an old tradition in France.
The existence of a nationalised tobacco industry is not the solution to smoking-related health problems. A measure of this type will not make tobacco consumption go away, and it is economically inefficient.