French Films Are Addicted to Cigarettes, Warn Cancer Experts

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There is more tobacco in French films than there is in real life, say researchers.

Nearly every French film released between 2015 and 2019 features smoking and the screen time the addiction gets amounts to six free adverts for tobacco companies, new research reveals.

According to the French League Against Cancer, smoking is shown for an average of 2.6 minutes per film.

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“Tobacco remains quasi-ubiquitous in French films,” the charity said.

“There is more tobacco in French films than there is in real life. The League’s objective is to free the world of cinema, which is so precious and fragile, from the harmful influence of tobacco sellers. We are on the side of the victims and obviously respect the freedom of artistic creation in the seventh art,” said Professor Albert Hirsch, a pneumologist and the national administrator of the League. National Administrator of the Cancer League.

Modern French films, not just the New Wave classics, are still rife with smoking with some 90 percent of 150 films from 2015 to 2019 surveyed containing a “smoking event.”


The league is now calling on the French government to regulate against smoking on screen. Previous studies have shown that smoking scenes in films can influence young people to take up the habit.

Netflix promised to cut back on depicting on-screen smoking in 2019 but some shows would continue to include the habit for “reasons of historical or factual accuracy” or when “it’s essential to the creative vision of the artist or character-defining”.

“We also recognise that smoking is harmful and when portrayed positively on screen can adversely influence young people,” the company added.


This week, more than 283,000 people have signed a petition urging Spain’s environmental minister to ban smoking on all of Spanish beaches.


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Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.

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