France's last cigarette factory faces its draw

AFP , Wednesday 27 Sep 2023

The last remaining factory making cigarettes in France, where smoking was once as much part of the cultural fabric as cafes and wine, is set to close by year-end, the site's owner told employees on Wednesday.

Macotab company
Thierry Jourdan. the director of the manufacture Corse des Tabacs (Macotab)which makes cigarettes on behalf of industry giant Philip Morris, controls the quality of tobacco, February 8, 2023 in Furiani, Corsica. AFP


The Manufacture Corse des Tabacs (Macotab), on the Mediterranean island of Corsica, makes cigarettes on behalf of industry giant Philip Morris, which recently signalled an end to the contract.

Contraband packets have also cut into legal sales, according to the factory's owner SEITA, the former French monopoly.

Just around 30 employees now work at the site, down from 143 in the early 1980s.

SEITA had already closed the country's tobacco processing factory in 2019, in the traditional growing region of the Dordogne in the southwest.

Efforts by authorities to curb smoking and its health hazards, not least by prohibiting puffing in restaurants and cafes, have prompted sharp reductions in cigarette sales in recent years.

A ban on cigarette advertising also had a huge impact, with some former factories finding new lives as cultural and exhibition spaces, as in the southern city of Marseille, or even a university in Lyon.

Smoking remains the main cause of avoidable deaths in France, according to the Sante Publique France health agency, which estimates 75,000 tobacco deaths each year.

The bulk of European production these days is in Germany and Poland.

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