Nanny State

Are the French Sophisticated Enough to Tolerate Images of Cigarettes?


Last week a committee of the French National Assembly approved legislation that would loosen the country's ban on tobacco advertising to avoid absurdities like this, an ad for a 2009 retrospective on the films of Jacques Tati in which his comic character M. Hulot's trademark pipe has been replaced by a yellow pinwheel. The 1991 ban applies not only to tobacco ads but also to tobacco images in ads for other products. In addition to requiring the removal of Hulot's pipe, the law mandated the airbrushing of cigarettes from famous pictures of the writer André Malraux (featured on a 1996 commemorative stamp) and the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre (included in promotional materials for a 2005 exhibit at the National Library of France). The proposed amendment makes an exception for "artistic or cultural works."

Charles Paul Freund discussed cigarette censorship in a 1991 Reason piece, and Jeff Winkler noted the expurgated film festival ad here in 2009.