Yes, alcohol (and especially wine) is much less taxed in France than tobacco

Doctors ask the Minister of Health to "tax more alcohol to fund prevention and care "and thus reduce the consumption of the youngest.
 | 12.10.2018 at 11:14
 • Updated
12.10.2018 at 11:28

By Anne-Aël Durand

                                                                                                                Several doctors published, Thursday, October 11, an open letter to the Minister of Health, Agnès Buzyn, to "protect the French more alcohol" by taxing more, while the 2019 budget of the Social Security is examined in commission in the National Assembly.
The authors of the letter are sorry to see that the fund for the fight against addictions to psychoactive substances is 100 million euros in tobacco taxes, and 10 million euros in future fines on tobacco. cannabis, but does not include alcohol-related funding. However, they believe that "taxing alcohol more strongly is essential to fund prevention and care and especially to reduce its consumption, especially that of the youngest".
In fact, the current taxes on alcohol are much less numerous and much more complex than the taxation of tobacco products.

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Different taxes depending on the type of alcohol
In addition to the value-added tax of 20%, alcohol – such as tobacco, oil or other luxury goods or pollutants – is subject to an indirect tax called "excise tax". But it does not have the same amount depending on the nature of the product.
Thus, the consumption duties on tobacco (DCT) – themselves divided into a proportional share and a specific share – have amounts that can vary from one to two, or even triple, depending on whether it is tobacco rolling, snuff, cigar or cigarette.
For alcohol, the number of categories and methods of calculation is even more complex, as specified by the site
"quiet" (non-bubbled) wines are taxed at 3.78 euros per hectolitre, which is three times less than sparkling wines (9.35 euros per hectolitre), whereas beers are taxed according to their degree of alcohol (with a tax that goes from 3.71 euros to 7.42 euros per hectolitre per degree), but also the size of the brewery, for the strong alcohols, the tax, much higher, is calculated on the "Hectolitre of pure alcohol", with a reduced rate for the wine makers (privilege in danger of extinction), but also for the rums of overseas (871 euros instead of 1,741 euros). Excise duty is supplemented by specific Social Security contributions on beverages of more than 18o alcohol, as well as on "premixes", mixtures of alcoholic and very sweet beverages for young people.

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In theory, taxes should be related to the degree of alcohol, but wine – protected by influential lobbies – is proportionately much less taxed than other products.

As noted in a 2016 Court of Auditors report, France's tax system is geared more towards protecting national production (France being a major wine nation) than towards public health objectives. Thus, wines represent 60% of the alcoholic beverages consumed in France, but only 3.6% of the excise duty.

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Alcohol: 49,000 deaths a year
From a public health perspective, tobacco-related mortality is of great concern, since smoking, the leading cause of cancer, is responsible for 73,000 premature deaths a year.

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But just after smoking, alcohol is the second leading cause of preventable death. Including cancer, cirrhosis, road traffic accidents and cardiovascular disease, alcohol consumption was responsible for 49,000 deaths per year, according to a 2009 study.
In the Social Security budget, the contribution of taxes on tobacco, which amounts to 14 billion euros in 2018, is much higher than the income from alcohol products, which amount to only 4 billion euros. euros.