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France To Ban Cigarette Branding, Require Generic Packaging

Flashy cigarettes packages will all become neutral in France.
Flashy cigarettes packages will all become neutral in France.

PARIS — Bad news for the tobacco industry and smokers in France. Health Minister Marisol Touraine will announce strict new tobacco control measure next month that are expected to ban any branding on cigarette packs.

The French daily Le Figaro reports that the overall effect of the new measures will be as radical as the original 1991 Évin law that banned the advertising of cigarettes, as well as the 2007 decree ending smoking in public spaces.

This measure, expected to be unveiled June 17, will provide for the setting up of neutral, or generic, cigarette packages. Le Figaro reports that each packet will have the same color and the brand names will be printed according to a unique model: same font, size and color for Marlboro, Camel or Lucky Strike. Distinctive logos, which were one of the last marketing tools for the tobacco companies, will also be banned.

The idea of the generic packaging comes from Australia, where in December 2012, the government introduced generic olive green packages. But there is not doubt that in France, as it happened in Australia, the tobacco companies will use all legal means available to counteract this measure.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Wagner's MIA Convicts: Where Do Deserting Russian Mercenaries Go?

Tens of thousands of Russian prisoners who've been recruited by the Wagner Group mercenary outfit have escaped from the frontlines after volunteering in exchange for freedom. Some appear to be seeking political asylum in Europe thanks to a "cleared" criminal record.

Picture of a soldier wearing the Wagner Group Logo on their uniform.

Soldier wearing the paramilitary Wagner Group Logo on their uniform.

Source: Sky over Ukraine via Facebook
Anna Akage

Of the about 50,000 Russian convicts who signed up to fight in Ukraine with the Wagner Group, just 10,000 are reportedly still at the front. An unknown number have been killed in action — but among those would-be casualties are also a certain number of coffins that are actually empty.

To hide the number of soldiers who have deserted or defected to Ukraine, Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin is reportedly adding them to the lists of the dead and missing.

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Some Wagner fighters have surrendered through the Ukrainian government's "I Want To Live" hotline, says Olga Romanova, director and founder of the Russia Behind Bars foundation.

"Relatives of the convicts enlisted in the Wagner Group are not allowed to open the coffins," explains Romanova.

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