the essential France wants to take advantage of its presidency of the European Union in 2022 to harmonize tobacco prices in Europe. French smokers have benefited for many years from more attractive prices for cigarettes on the other side of the Pyrenees, to the chagrin of tobacconists.
“With Bruno Le Maire, we have clearly indicated to the European Commission our desire to reopen the European texts governing tobacco taxation,” said Olivier Dussopt before the Congress of tobacconists, which brings together 550 professionals this Thursday and Friday in Paris.
The government’s objective will be “the harmonization from above of the taxation applicable to tobacco, within the European Union”, he continued, but also to ensure that “the thresholds for tobacco products that can be purchased abroad are identical to the rule of one cartridge per person set in France on August 1 2020 “.
France will assume from January 1, and for six months, the rotating presidency of the EU. The increase in taxation applied under the chairmanship of Emmanuel Macron, which led to the price of the packet of cigarettes – constituted at 80% of taxes – at 10, 000 euros on average, “chafouiné tobacconists, as they say in Béarn, with the fear of seeing our customers leaving for more advantageous markets”, recalled Philippe Coy, reelected in the morning to the presidency of the Confederation of tobacconists.
14 to 17% of tobacco in France comes from the “parallel market”
At the end of September, a parliamentary report estimated that the “parallel market” would represent between 10% and 17% of tobacco consumption in France, for a tax loss of 3 billion euros, and up to 27% in border areas – Andorra or Belgium in particular, with prices much lower than those in France.
Extended until 2022, the Transformation Fund (2018 – 2021) which pays aid up to 27 euros to tobacconists wishing to diversify their activity so as to be less dependent on declining tobacco sales in recent years, will have benefited in total from 100 millions of euros, of which 17 millions registered in the finance bill for 2022, indicated Olivier Dussopt.
Customs will better control postal packages
This Thursday Christophe Bertani, Customs administrator, took stock of the application “Stop Tobacco Trafficking”, which allows tobacconists to report anonymously, since February 2020, fraudulent sales “at the corner of the street or on the internet”: 1638 reports were “processed by the customs services, at local level” and “transmitted to the customs intelligence department , on a national level”. Regarding illicit tobacco sales on the internet, tracing the channels “remains quite complicated and time-consuming,” he said.
But Customs will “in the coming months, experiment with the use of powerful scanners” to counter traffic by post, by better controlling postal packages, announced the director of Customs, Isabelle Braun Lemaire, to tobacconists. Some 24 000 tobacconists have sales of 33 billion euros, of which 21, 8 billion euros come from tobacco products (but also games, bars, newspapers, snacking, vaping …), on which they receive a commission of 8.1%.