Tobacco Usage in France: An Epidemiological Study

Wynder, Ernst L.; Mushinski, Margaret H.; Stellman, Steven D.; Choay, Patrick

A survey of tobacco and alcohol consumption was conducted among 3,453 noninstitutionalized men and women in 65 départements in France. Over four-fifths of the men and half of the women surveyed had smoked cigarettes. Men were far more likely than women to have stopped smoking, especially older men in higher social classes. Fifty-five percent of the men smoked cigarettes made with black tobacco (Gauloises, Gitanes), while women preferred blond tobacco products. Younger smokers of both sexes preferred filtered cigarettes, while older respondents smoked nonfiltered ones. Filter usage among men, but not women, increased with education. Inhalation was more prevalent among men than women, among the young than the old, and among the more educated than the less educated. “Drooping” or carrying a lighted cigarettes in the mouth without inhaling, was a practice more common in older, less educated male smokers. These data also provide some evidence in support of the hypothesis that black tobacco, with its higher pH, provides unprotonated nicotine which is easily absorbed by oral mucosa, thus making deep inhalation of the smoke less important to the smoker. The observed differences between the smoking practices of the French and those in the United States and United Kingdom along with the relatively higher alcohol consumption noted throughout France, may partially explain the lower rates of lung cancer and higher rates of larynx, esophagus, and oral cavity cancer found in French men.


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October 8, 2014