“The government must take its responsibilities with strong measures to bring down smoking in the country. Luxembourg's anti-smoking policy has not borne fruit," says Cancer Foundation director Lucienne Thommes. The annual survey, published on World No Tobacco Day, included 3,019 Luxembourg residents over age 16.
Per the survey, more than a quarter (26%) of respondents in Luxembourg smoked in 2020, either regularly or occasionally, and 17% light at least one cigarette per day. “If we extrapolate these figures to the entire population aged over 16, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg has around 135,000 smokers, including more than 88,000 daily smokers. Compared to the previous year, marked by an unusually high increase [in 2019, 27% of all adults were smokers, editor's note], the percentage of smokers in 2020, with a drop of one point, has hardly changed,” the foundation added in its press release. The covid-19 crisis, seen by a majority of people as stressful, has not caused smokers to slow down on tobacco use either.
Falling excise duty revenues
The last time a smoking rate above 25% was recorded was in 2005. And the highest proportion of smokers is among young people, with one-third (33%) of 18-24-year-olds having smoked in 2020. For the 25- to 34-year-old age group, this rate reaches 35%. “The right thing to do is to dramatically increase the prices of tobacco products, and prevention programmes need to be expanded,” according to Thommes.
And the general trend is not towards smoking cessation, because even though 48% of all smokers who took part in the TNS Ilres survey declared that they wanted to quit, this is the lowest rate since 2008. “Raising the price of cigarette packs by only ten or twenty cents does nothing,” Thommes explains. “But we are well aware that the attractiveness of the prices charged in our country is not working in our favour. Revenue from excise duties is much higher than the cost to the CNS for the consequences of smoking, unlike other countries like France, which have therefore chosen to sharply increase the price of packs."
€664.8m in excise duties in 2020?
The grand duchy in 2019 received nearly €775m (including €170m VAT) from the tobacco industry, and nearly 3 bn cigarettes were sold in 2018. Revenue from "autonomous excise duties on manufactured tobacco" would be €664.8m for 2020 (provisional figure), according to data on the state's current revenue situation as of last 31 December, a decrease of about 15%. The decrease is perhaps a consequence of the measure put in place by the French government on 1 August. The French are no longer allowed to bring back four cartons from abroad (including from Luxembourg), but only one.
This article was originally published in French on Paperjam and has been translated and edited for Delano.