Smoke screen

| December 22, 2017

The European Commission has been asked whether it is officially in favor of banning smoking in films.

The French member of the European Parliament, Marie-Christine Arnautu, said in a preamble to her question that the idea of banning smoking in films, inspired by a fanatical obsession with public health, was absurd, patronising, invasive, disproportionate and a threat to freedom of artistic expression.

‘However, during a French Senate debate held on 16 November 2017 on the latest increase in cigarette prices, a Socialist senator complained that films were shamelessly encouraging smoking,’ Arnautu said. ‘The Minister of Health, Agnès Buzyn, then immediately expressed her wish to “end the trivialising of smoking on social media and in films”, an assertion that raises questions about a possible ban on cigarettes on the silver screen.

‘If we were to take such moralising to its logical conclusion, we would also have to censure all the “deviant” behaviour on display in so many films, such as driving over the speed limit, fighting, stealing and other crimes. But why stop there when we could also ban misogynist remarks, unhealthy meals, alcohol, high-polluting cars and, while we’re at it, the cult dialogues of Michel Audiard’s films?

‘In response to the controversy, Commission spokesperson Anca Paduraru said that “the Commission welcomes all measures taken by EU countries that de-glamorize smoking and reduce uptake, particularly amongst young people” (Euractiv, 21/11/2017).’

Arnautu asked, ‘Is the Commission officially in favour of banning smoking in films?’

The Commission is due to answer in writing.

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