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The latest anti-smoking campaign from Droits des Non-Fumeurs (Association for Non-Smoker’s Rights), showing teenagers in questionable poses, has caused outrage across Paris and beyond for the message it portrays. The adverts were presented to the media earlier in the week, but now there’s even talk of them being banned before we get to see if they do the trick.
The ads were intended to target teenagers to show a different anti-smoking message to the norm, focusing on the issue of dependence and submission rather than health. They show a man pushing down on the head of a girl with a cigarette in her mouth, in a pose depicting oral sex. A similar advert with a teenage boy is also used, with the slogan reading “Smoking means being a slave to tobacco”. The ads were intended to shock as more genial messages regarding health seem to be largely disregarded by teenagers, but some people worry that it’s gone too far.
Critics of the campaign argue that sexual abuse shouldn’t be trivialised in this way, even stating that they’re in the realm of pornography, with France’s Family Minister (Nadine Morano) calling for the ads to be banned. She believes that there are better way to explain to teenagers that smoking can be addictive, but the head of Droits des Non-Fumeurs disagrees.
Remi Parola argues that traditional messages that try to get teenagers’ attention simply don’t work, and that provocative ad campaigns are the only way to get through to them. They see cigarettes as a means of freedom and don’t listen to issues of health and illness, but when it comes to dependence and submission they’ll take notice.
The irony is that we may not even get to see if this latest campaign works, at least if Nadine Morano gets her way. But, that may not even be an issue, as all the controversy surrounding it has at least bought the issue to the attention of the public. That itself could be all that’s needed to make teenagers listen, and with teenage smoking being such a widespread problem anything that can get their attention is worth trying.
So, if you want to see if the ads make it to the newspapers and bars of Paris, why not go over there yourself? Rent apartments in Paris to experience this beautiful city, and see if the furore over this controversial campaign has really had an effect.