Are presidential candidates indifferent to public health?

An employee of a poster company sticks the official campaign poster of presidential candidate Yannick Jadot (EELV), in Saint-Herblain (Loire-Atlantique), March 28, 2022.

A few days before the first round of the presidential election, and after more than two years of pandemic, the lack of attraction that the candidates for the presidency of the Republic have for concrete public health issues is a worrying sign. Solicited on March 9 on seven major themes (alcohol, cannabis, nutrition, road safety, health system, tobacco and vaccination) by the Public Health Club, most of the twelve contenders for the Elysee Palace did not deign to participate. As of April 4, and despite a reminder to most of their campaign teams, only Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (Debout la France) had sent his answers to the 23 questions, while the deadline was initially set for March 21. .

See the comparator: Compare the programs of the main candidates

Admittedly, the candidates are bombarded with requests on all subjects, but the approach of the Public Health Club, which has offered this exercise to each presidential candidate since 1988, is a quasi-institution. In the six previous elections, this think tank, now made up of 11 widely recognized public health specialists, had obtained responses from almost all the candidates. A success that can be explained by the importance of their subjects, and their weight in public health policies. Thus, professors Gérard Dubois, Claude Got, and Albert Hirsch, three of the five historical members of this Club, played a major role in the initiation of the Evin law of 1991 which prohibited alcohol and tobacco advertising. Claude Got also initiated the road safety policy. Nutritionist Serge Hercberg is the creator of Nutriscore, the nutritional information system on the front of foods.

To facilitate the task of the candidates, the questions asked call for a yes or no answer, or even ” is not pronounced “. “An argument is welcome”, specifies the group.

“Sensitivity of subjects”

Nicolas Dupont-Aignan has not commented on his ” no “ at the question “Will you introduce a minimum price per unit of alcohol? “. He is also opposed to the organization of a citizen debate on the legalization of cannabis: “I am opposed in principle to the legalization of cannabis, which is a dangerous drug for the mental health of our fellow citizens, especially our youth. »

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For François Bourdillon, former Director General of Public Health France, and his colleagues at the Club, several reasons can explain the low participation rate: “The war in Ukraine, but also a weakening of our democracy, the sensitivity of health issues and the measures to be taken which may at first sight appear unpopular – speed limit, increase in the price of tobacco (…). Finally perhaps, and more seriously, the refusal to engage with certain lobbies,” they write in a press release.

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