It is a real pavement in the pond that François Braun threw Sunday. Questioned by the Grand jury RTL-LCI-Le Figaro, the Minister of Health said he was in favor of banning "puff", these disposable electronic cigarettes that are all the rage with young people and are accused of bringing smoking some of them.
On the other hand, François Braun has opened the door to the delivery of electronic cigarettes in pharmacies, or even to their reimbursement by Social Security. "I plan to open this possibility of prescription also to pharmacists who are confronted with these smokers who want to quit," said the minister, while discussions for the government's next tobacco plan, scheduled for the period 2023-2028, are underway.
Nicotine substitutes (patches, gums), which are already sold in pharmacies, could also be prescribed by pharmacists and supported. Until then, doctors, dentists, physiotherapists were allowed to do so, but not pharmacists. The Federation of Pharmaceutical Unions of France had made the request to François Braun. "It would be a good thing to simplify the process and allow anyone to go directly to the pharmacy to be reimbursed," says its president, Philippe Besset.
"A narrower and more adapted range"
If the minister's words were to materialize, the role of pharmacies in smoking cessation would be strengthened. "Pharmacists can prescribe electronic cigarettes provided they are properly trained," Loïc Josserand, president of the Alliance Against Tobacco, told France Info. A pharmacist can manage a withdrawal in his pharmacy without any difficulty.»
However, there is no question of transforming the pharmacy into an "annex" of vaping shops and tobacco shops. If electronic cigarettes were authorized for sale in pharmacies, "it would surely be a more restricted and adapted range, a tariff set by the public authorities, with a refund for a previously defined period," warns Philippe Besset. The experts will agree. Weaning usually lasts three months." Australia has authorized the supply of electronic cigarettes in pharmacies, in only two flavors, tobacco and menthol.
Today, the sale of electronic cigarettes is prohibited in pharmacies in France. If marketed in pharmacies, these products would be considered as medical devices. They would require the approval of the Agency for the Safety of Medicines (ANSM). If François Braun's idea is retained, it will be discussed as part of the Social Security financing bill for 2024. This would be "good news for smoking cessation," concludes Philippe Besset.
The ban on puff makes its way
If the British public authorities have been encouraging vaping as a smoking cessation tool for several years, the France was until now much more reserved, to the chagrin of professionals in the sector.
As for the ban on "puffs", sold illegally to many teenagers, it is gaining ground in the political class and public opinion. The sale of "puff" has recently been the subject of several exchanges between the Confederation of tobacconists and the Interministerial Mission against Drugs and Addictive Behaviors (Mildeca). Tobacconists, some of whom are accused of turning a blind eye to the age of customers, say they are in favor of better supervision of the sale of this product.