French Politician Condemns Smoking in Films

Senator Nadine Grelet-Certenais from Sarthe has called for a critical examination of smoking in French films. The Senator urged her colleagues in the Senate to consider the effects of watching films full of smoking adults on French children and teenagers. According to Grelet-Certenais, 70% of all new French films show a character smoking. She also expressed concern that showing smoking scenes onscreen offered free advertising for tobacco companies. France's Minister of Health Agnès Buzyn has said she will discuss the possibility of regulating cinema smoking scenes with Françoise Nyssen, the Minister of Culture. Neither Grelet-Certenais or Buzyn have stipulated if they are considering moderating onscreen smoking or planning to implement an outright ban.

Smoking has been part of French cinema since its inception. As early as 1919, the silent film La Cigarette by Germaine Dulac featured a plot that revolved around the smoking habits of the protagonist. Later, Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless saw star Jean-Paul Belmondo smoking throughout the film. His onscreen habit was so iconic, it was even mentioned in the film's trailer. French sex symbol Brigitte Bardot is famous for lighting up in her films. Out of the 40 odd films she made in her career, she was seen smoking in 13 of them. Blonde beauty Catherine Devenue has also made smoking an onscreen habit. The prolific actress has portrayed a smoker in more than 40 of her films.

This discussion of smoking in French cinema comes on the heels of a debate in the French parliament over whether to raise taxes on cigarettes by 42%. Prime Minister Edouard Phillippe has declared his determination to discourage cigarette usage in France by increasing the price of a pack. According to the World Lung Foundation, an estimated 1.6 million French adults use tobacco products every day and more than 700,000 people die annually from tobacco-related illnesses in France. France also has an above-average number of both both male and female smokers compared to other developed nations.


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