Prof Loic Josseran, Professor in Public Health at the Versailles St Quentin University, was elected President of the national French coalition Alliance Contre Le Tabac, on Wednesday 27 June. He got into tobacco control in 1998, when he went to the United States on a research looking at French data. When he came back, he set up a staff prevention and smoking cessation service at the Pitié-Salpétrière Hospital in Paris. He started working with Prof Bertrand Dautzenberg, within the smokefree hospital network. After a break, Prof Josseran joined the government, responsible for all issues related to tobacco (2010-2012). .
Despite France scoring highly in the various scales and being considered as one of the leading countries in Europe, there are still a lot to do. It was amongst the first ones to ban smoking in restaurants and bars, and yet just by looking at the terraces, especially in the winter, the legislation is clearly not enforced. Tobacco tax increases in the last few years had not been significant enough to affect consumption and the adoption of plain packaging is too early to measure the impacts. We have evidence that advertising at point of sales and sales to minors are still happening. It seems that France is a world champion to pass legislations but really terrible at complying with them.
Within this context, Prof Josseran is strongly committed to ensure that partnership amongst all members is encouraged, in order to work together to increase efficacy and effectiveness of tobacco control specific policies. It is vital that a unified Alliance constantly reminds the government to consider the various priorities, amendments and the importance of details. With a new government very committed to issues related to tobacco, especially the increase in prices for cigarette packs to ten euros, it is hoped that within this favourable context and environment, the French Alliance will be able to work closely with the Minister of Health to make a real difference on national prevalence and make a rue culture change.
“The civil society need to remain very active and alert as it is it strength. The tobacco industry at the moment is very offensive and the Alliance needs to keep being vigilant, cautious and on its guard. It has the ability to be flexible, quickly responsive and able to mobilise forces at very short notice.”
In terms of priorities, Prof Josseran would like the Alliance to have more activities at European level, to benefit from international expertise as well as share the French experience and learning. The exchange of knowledge and information between France and the rest of Europe will be vital to progress together towards stronger and better tobacco control.
Finally, discussing priority areas for the future, it was mentioned that particular focus should be put on evaluating initiatives as well as policies. France still struggles in assessing and measure the effectiveness of the work carried out, and the Alliance should facilitate, with the support of ENSP to look at other cultures and members to strengthen this.
More about the Alliance contre le tabac…