- Title: FRANCE: Advert associating smoking with a sexual act causes controversy in France
- Date: 25th February 2010
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (French) PARISIAN ELIE COHEN-LEVY, SAYING: "I think it would be better to show someone who is dying from his tobacco addiction, with the black lungs, and that would be interesting. But here, "being a tobacco slave" doesn't mean anything." (SOUNDBITE) (French) OPHELIE, PARISIAN, SAYING: "It's got nothing to do with it. The sex, the position which looks quite violent, and the pedophile aspect because they are young people, adults would be different, in fact it touches another problem which has nothing to do with tobacco addiction." (SOUNDBITE) (French) CARMEN, SAYING: "I find this advert very shocking. There are other ways to do things than to put a cigarette at the height of genitals, what does that mean." PEOPLE WALKING IN PARIS STREET
- Embargoed: 12th March 2010 12:00
- Location: France
- Country: France
- Topics: Health,Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA7JHUHYUVPI5OP8I8R7SBW8SG6
- Story Text: An anti-smoking campaign which show teenagers simulating fellatio with a cigarette causes an uproar in France. Critics argue it plays down sexual abuse and distracts from real health threats.
An anti-smoking campaign showing teenagers simulating fellatio with a cigarette has caused an uproar in France, with critics arguing it plays down sexual abuse and distracts from real health threats.
The ads, presented earlier this week, show an older man in a suit pushing down the head of a teenager with a cigarette in his mouth, in a position that suggests oral sex. The accompanying slogan reads: "Smoking means being a slave to tobacco".
"You see a young person with a cigarette in their mouth and someone's hand, symbolising authority. The picture represents the authority, the dependance one has to deal with when one starts smoking," said, Remi Parola, the head of the association "Droits des Non-Fumeurs" ("Non-smokers' Rights), the organisation behind the campaign.
Droits des Non-Fumeurs said the posters showed neither rape nor abuse, but were meant to create a shock effect and have an impact on young smokers that more traditional campaigns lacked.
"We noticed that the traditional prevention campaigns against smoking were not working anymore so we thought that to speak about tobacco addiction and for the young population to be aware of it, we needed to find a concept about dependence linked to smoking. Why is that? Because very often when you start smoking, when you have that first cigarette, it's because you want to be cool, you want to prove yourself, to emancipate yourself from any authority, especially the parents' authority. We wanted to take the message given out sometimes by the tobacco industry and turn it around by explaining that when you start smoking you don't become more free, you don't become emancipated but, in the contrary, you go into a new dependence," added Parola.
Parola plans to publish the ads in newspapers and bars.
But the campaign may have left the public shocked, but unimpressed:
"I think it would be better to show someone who is dying from his tobacco addiction, with the black lungs, and that would be interesting. But here, "being a tobacco slave" doesn't mean anything," said one Parisian.
"It's got nothing to do with it. The sex, the position which looks quite violent, and the pedophile aspect because they are young people, adults would be different, in fact it touches another problem which has nothing to do with tobacco addiction," said another.
"I find this advert very shocking. there are other ways to do things than to put a cigarette at the height of genitals, what does that mean," added Carmen.
France has cracked down on cigarettes along with other European countries, declaring them a major threat to public health and imposing smoking bans on cafes, bars and restaurants.
Tobacco is the number one cause of avoidable deaths as well as of cancer in France, according to the health ministry. Half of French students over 14 have tried it at some point.
While Droits des Non-Fumeurs argues that young smokers tend to ignore ads focusing on health, activists were doubtful about the effectiveness of more unconventional posters.
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