A proposal to ban smoking with French films, made by senator Nadine Grelet-Certenais last week, has been supported by the European Commission.
Anca Paduraru, a European Commission spokesperson, said:
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The Commission welcomes all measures taken by EU countries that deglamourize smoking, and reduce uptake, particularly amongst young people.
Whilst examining the Social Security budget, particularly, increasing the price of cigarettes by 2020, Grelet-Certenais argued that the presence of cigarettes in the cinema “more or less trivialize their use, if not promote it” and said she sees it as “backdoor advertising for tobacco consumption”.
French health minister, Agnes Buzyn, agreed and said:
I do not understand the importance of cigarettes in French cinema.
The two women have agreed to meet with the minister of culture, Francoise Nyssen, to discuss the issue and decide a plan to “denormalise the image of tobacco in society”.
In France, smoking-related diseases have been found to be the main cause of preventable deaths.
Last year the World Health Organisation claimed 44 percent of all Hollywood films released in 2014 had at least one person smoking.
They also said that 37 percent of adolescent smokers had begun smoking after seeing it on screen. They subsequently requested all films that featured smoking to be given an adult rating.
The league against cancer shows in a study that 70 percent of new French films at least one person smoking.
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However, the statement has received backlash from a number of film critics and some politicians.
For cinema critic Serge Toubiana, banning smoking on the screen would be “an admission of the failure of all the public health policies” and that health policy must be more effective.
Toubiana, speaking to FranceInfo, said:
It’s another ban. It would burn all Claude Sautet’s films, ban them to all audiences. You could never watch a movie with Humphrey Bogart again. We could never show Winston Churchill smoking the cigar again, or General de Gaulle, not to mention Georges Pompidou.
Philosopher and commentator Raphael Enthoven said “injecting morality in the Seventh Art is like pouring Coca-Cola into a Chateua-Lafite”.
The ban would also mean cuts to films such as James Bond and the majority of classic French film from the 1950’s to the 1960s.
Florian Philippot, former vice-president of the Front National, said that the statement was in line with the current French society which he believes is “increasingly oppressive”.