Proposal to ban smoking in French films mocked online

The senator proposed accused films of acting as “advertising for smoking”

A proposal to ban the depiction of smoking in French cinema films has been mocked after critics suggested it was unrealistic and unenforceable.

Senator Nadine Grelet-Certenais, of the Sarthe, revived the years-old debate about on-screen smoking during a vote on the expected rise in the price of cigarettes by 2020, reported French news source FranceInfo.

The senator proposed a ban on new films showing smoking on-screen, and accused films of acting as “advertising for smoking”. She alleged that “70% of new French films show someone smoking at least once”.

She continued: “This normalises, if not promotes, its use to children and adolescents, who are usually the early consumers of films, TV series, especially via the internet."

Minister for Health, Agnès Buzyn, agreed with Grelet-Certenais, saying: “I do not understand the importance of cigarettes in French cinema.”

The two are now set to meet and discuss the issue further with the Minister for Culture, Françoise Nyssen, to explore how they can “denormalise the image of tobacco in society”.

And yet, the suggestions have been met with derision by members of the public online, many of whom said that if smoking is banned, then films would also need to ban the depiction of swearing, drug use, fast driving, and crime such as violence or murder.

One tweet added: “If [people in movies could also] just eat five fruits and vegetables a day, that would be ideal,” while another suggested that any war scenes, or even evidence of overeating of sugary snacks, should also go.

This was roundly and sarcastically seen as unrealistic and too-restrictive.

There is also no confirmation of whether any ban would also apply to old movies, or even any new ones that are not made in France or created by a French company.

One tweet even went further in its mockery, saying that banning smoking from French films to stop young people smoking would have no effect whatsoever, because “young people do not watch French films”.

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