March 3, 2010

Furor over France’s "pornographic" anti-smoking ads

A French anti-smoking campaign comparing smoking to sex slavery is being accused of everything from dissemination of pornography to insensitivity to child sexual abuse victims.

The ads -- set to be published in newspapers and posted in bars -- feature teens smoking cigarettes in such a way that they look like they might be performing oral sex on a man in a suit. The caption reads, "Smoking means being a slave to tobacco."

"Traditional advertisements targeting teens don't affect them. Talking about issues of health, illness or even death, they don't get it," a spokesperson for the Association for Nonsmokers' Rights told AP in explanation. "However, when we talk about submission and dependence, they listen."

The 16-year-old who alerted me to the controversy thought it was quite a hoot. But the family minister of France is not laughing. She is calling for a ban on the ads as "indecent exposure" and "an affront on public decency." Likewise, a child welfare group called the ads cruel and insensitive toward young child abuse victims. Tobacco company representatives are also incensed at being compared to pedophiles. "It's no longer prevention, but out of place provocation," one tobacco association said on its web site.

Ironically, the advance uproar is giving the anti-smoking campaign so much publicity that it will make the formal ad campaign unnecessary.

Hat tip: Greg


Neuroskeptic said...

If the tobacco company representatives are against it, I'm for it. Also, they are pretty damn funny...

Anonymous said...

I don't really see the humor in it but then I just finished reading the news article about Hamas banning male hairdressers for women. According to the eight male hairdressers in Gaza they only touch the hair and not the "sensitive areas" such as the eyebrows.

Anything can be turned into a symbol of dominance or submission, apparently even eyebrows. The fact anyone considers the act suggested by these photo to be symbolic of dominance and submission is, quite frankly, sad.

Anonymous said...

good idea