French in uproar over oral sex anti-smoking posters

 

Paris

French advertising companies are often criticised for using sexual images to sell everything from designer spectacles to sweetcorn. Now, for the first time, a controversy has erupted in France over the use of sexually suggestive posters as a deterrent.

A campaign to discourage young people from smoking shows male and female teenagers kneeling in front of a man, as if being forced to have oral sex. A cigarette takes the place of the man's sexual organ. The caption reads: "Smoking is to be a slave to tobacco."

The campaign, which was devised for a pressure group supporting the rights of non-smokers, has been attacked as "scandalous" and "potentially counter-productive" by feminist and pro-family campaigners.

The advertising agency behind the posters says only a shock campaign can halt the rise in smoking amongst 13 to 15-year-olds in France.

Marco de la Fuente, the leader of the project for the BDDP et Fils ad agency, said: "The old arguments – tobacco is bad for you – don't work any more. The message here is that tobacco is a form of submission. In the popular imagination, oral sex is the perfect symbol of submission."

Gérard Audureau, the president of Les Droits des Non-fumeurs (The Rights of Non-smokers), the pressure group which commissioned the ads, said health arguments did not reach teenagers. "Young people think that they are invincible, immortal," he said. "Fear of sexual exploitation worries them more than illness."

Opposition to the ads – to be shown in bars, clubs and newspapers – has been widespread. Florence Montreynaud, of the feminist pressure group Chiennes de Garde (Guard Bitches), said that it was "inadmissible" that an image implying underage sex should be exploited, even in a good cause.

Christiane Terry, of the conservative group Familles de France, said she will lodge a complaint with the French advertising standards watchdog. "Mixing up tobacco dependence and sex is ridiculous and scandalous," she said.

Surveys suggest smoking is, overall, in decline in France but becoming more common among teenagers. The number of French 13 to 15-year-olds who smoke is estimated to have increased by 66 per cent between 2004 and 2008. Almost one in five French 16 to 20-year-olds now smokes, compared to one in 10 a decade ago. However, in the population as a whole 55 billion cigarettes were smoked in 2009, down from 97 billion cigarettes in 1991.

Last year, however, there was a slight increase – 2.6 per cent – in overall smoking as the effect of the 2008 ban on smoking in bars, cafes and restaurants began to wear off.

The non-smokers' rights group says it does not care if adults are shocked by its posters. Mr Audureau said: "Very few anti-smoking campaigns catch the attention of the young. You have to use extreme images to make them take notice."

Read "Ten Adverts That Shocked The World"

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own