The French public is in uproar over a poster campaign to discourage young people from smoking which shows teenagers kneeling in front of a man, as if simulating oral sex. “A cigarette takes the place of the man’s sexual organ. The caption reads: ‘Smoking is to be a slave to tobacco.’ The campaign, which was devised for a pressure group supporting the rights of non-smokers, has been attacked as ‘scandalous’ and ‘potentially counter-productive’ by feminist and pro-family campaigners. The advertising agency behind the posters says only a shock campaign can halt the rise in smoking amongst 13 to 15-year-olds in France. Marco de la Fuente, the leader of the project for the BDDP et Fils ad agency, said: ‘The old arguments – tobacco is bad for you – don’t work any more. The message here is that tobacco is a form of submission. In the popular imagination, oral sex is the perfect symbol of submission.’ Gérard Audureau, the president of Les Droits des Non-fumeurs (The Rights of Non-smokers), the pressure group which commissioned the ads, said health arguments did not reach teenagers. ‘Young people think that they are invincible, immortal,’ he said. ‘Fear of sexual exploitation worries them more than illness.’”
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