Traffic speed cameras hooded! French tobacconists angry with plain packaging plan
The activists have been sabotaging cameras in several French regions since June. According to France's biggest tobacconist group, the Buralistes Confederation, 20 out of France’s 97 districts have been affected.
"It's a sign that anger is mounting," the group told Reuters on Wednesday.
The ‘Non au paquet neutre’ (no to plain cigarette packaging) group has been posting photos of the activists on Facebook. They wear white masks while covering traffic speed cameras with plastic bags.
“No to neutral package”, “No to €10 package”, said the banners.
Earlier on Monday, the Buralistes Confederation told Le Figaro that neutral cover for the cigarette package would have an "immediate impact" on cigarette sales.
"It will be welcome news for the counterfeiters because the packages will be easier to copy," the head of the group Pascal Montredon said. "We're not saying that nothing should be done, we're saying that all European countries should adopt the same measures at the same time."
According to a spokesman from the tobacconist’s organization in Correze, southwestern France, “if the state could do without the taxes from cigarettes then they could do without their earnings from speed cameras."
Correze tobacconists told France Bleu radio channel that during the night, from Sunday to Monday, they neutralized 13 of the town’s 15 traffic speed cameras.
A big rally against neutral packaging is scheduled for Wednesday.
On Monday, a conference was held in Paris that aimed to push the plan on neutral cigarette packaging. Ministers from 10 countries attended the event.
Plain packaging has been shown to "reduce the attractiveness of the product for consumers, especially amongst women and young people,” the ministers said.
According to French Health Minister Marisol Touraine who hosted the conference, the aim was "a world without tobacco" and that "the generation that is born today should be a generation without tobacco."
"My target with plain packaging is not long-term smokers, but preventing young people from starting to smoke and for these people plain packaging has an impact," said the minister.
Paris is planning to introduce plain cigarette packaging in May 2016. When the plan comes into force, France will become the second country, after Australia, to introduce such a measure. The UK is also thinking about introducing the measure in 2016.