Deliberately shocking anti-smoking adverts that compare nicotine addiction to sexual abuse, and which the French government has
vowed to ban, sparked a lively debate on Wednesday.
The ads show a man pushing a kneeling child's face towards his crotch. Two feature boys and one a girl. The children look fearfully up at him, holding in their mouth a cigarette that appears to protrude from his fly.
Under the image runs the slogan: "Smoking makes you a slave to tobacco."
France's minister for families, Nadine Morano, said she would take measures to get the advert banned on grounds of "public offence to decency".
"There are other ways to explain to young people that cigarettes make you addicted, at a time when we are fighting against child pornography," she said.
Health minister Roselyne Bachelot called it "inappropriate" and "counter-productive," though she agreed it had become necessary to use "shock images" to discourage the young from smoking.
The association Non-Smokers' Rights which launched the poster said it was intentionally "shocking and disturbing." The pressure group Families of France said it had made a formal complaint to advertising standards authorities.
A spokesman for British American Tobacco in France, Yves Trevilly, denounced the advert for effectively branding tobacco sellers "paedophiles or rapists." One woman who phoned radio station Europe 1 to complain that the advert was not even comprehensible to the age group it aims to
help. Her 12-year-old son "didn't understand it at all," she said.
In a comment posted on the station's website, another commenter insisted: "The shame is not the ad but letting young people fall into the hands of harmful substances. - (Sapa, February 2010)
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