Mayor commented in the research news section the decrease in the proportion of people in England aged over 18 who smoke: from 19.9% in 2010 to 15.5% in 2016.(1) This is neither research nor news: smoking prevalence has been continuously declining over 5 decades, by two-thirds (http://www.pnlee.co.uk/Downloads/ISS/ISS-UnitedKingdom_120111.pdf).
Mayor should have reported the French case. Smoking prevalence (15-85 y) increased from 31,6% in 2010 (27,3% daily) to 34,5% (28,7% daily) in 2016 (http://inpes.santepubliquefrance.fr/Barometres/index.asp). Indeed, it is news as the French Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction did not publish data about smoking prevalence in its 10 page report issued in 2017.(2)
Moreover, it is research and, although pragmatic, it is long term. Raffarin, President Chirac’s Prime Minister, announced a moratorium on tobacco taxes in 2004, fully implemented by successive governments.(3) However, I must confess there are confounding factors: a) as French tobacco experts rely on e-cigarettes for smoking cessation, flying in the face of common sense;(4,5) b) health minister Xavier Bertrand banned varenicline from the reimbursement by the mandatory healthcare scheme, without consulting the appropriate regulatory agency.(6)
The Journal despite its name has an international audience (120,000 doctors in the UK but many more overseas), accordingly selective reporting about England’s achievements is unfair. England has not achieved yet the lowest smoking prevalence among rich countries, although its efforts must be commended. In contrast, France has succeeded in being the chimney of rich countries.
1 Mayor S. Smoking prevalence falls among adults in England. BMJ 2017;357:j2953
2 Lermenier-Jeannet A, OFDT. Tabagisme et arrêt du tabac en 2016. Fev 2017. OFDT. Available at http://www.ofdt.fr/ofdt/fr/tt_16bil.pdf.
3 Braillon A, Mereau AS, Dubois G. [Tobacco control in France: effects of public policy on mortality]. Presse Med. 2012 Jul;41:679-81.
4 Braillon A. [e-cigarette: who cannot see the wood for the tree? Letter on the article "Electronic cigarette: reliable and efficient?"]. Presse Med. 2015;44:124-5.
5 Braillon A. Electronic cigarettes: from history to evidence-based medicine. Am J Prev Med. 2014;47:e13.
6 Braillon A. When will French smokers be concerned by varenicline's benefit-to-risk ratio? Lancet Respir Med 2016;4:e13.
Competing interests: No competing interests