France to quit making cigarettes as last factory prepares to close

The last remaining factory making cigarettes in France is set to close by the end of 2023, the site’s owner told its employees this week.

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The Manufacture Corse des Tabacs (Macotab), on the Mediterranean island of Corsica, is the last to manufacture cigarettes in France since the closure of another in the centre of the country in 2016.

Around 30 employees work at the Corsican site, down from 143 in the early 1980s.

The factory makes cigarettes on behalf of industry giant Philip Morris, which recently signalled it was ending the contract.

Contraband packets have also cut into legal sales, according to the factory’s owner Seita, the former French state-owned tobacco monopoly that is now part of the British company Imperial Tobacco.

A worker adjusts a machine at Macotab (Manufacture Corse de Tabacs), the last French cigarette manufacture, in Furiani, Corsica. AFP – Pascal Pochard-Casabianca

Seita had already closed France’s last tobacco processing factory in 2019, in the traditional growing region of the Dordogne in the south-west.

Some former factories in Marseille and Lyon have found new as cultural and exhibition spaces, or even a university.

Kicking the habit

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

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

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

(with AFP) France to quit making cigarettes as last factory prepares to close

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