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Visiting France

French MPs to change anti-smoking law after Jacques Tati pipe row

media Girl smoking outside a cafe in Paris, France Luigi Morante

French politicians on Wednesday voted to modify a ban on promoting smoking after criticism of the airbrushing of pictures of well-known cultural figures. Stringent health legislation passed in 1991 forbade any direct or indirect promotion of smoking.

Last year posters for a retrospective of the work of French film-maker Jacques Tati showed the late actor with his pipe replaced by a yellow toy windmill. The ad was blasted by critics who said it was an overdose of political correctness.

In another example in 2005, the National Library airbrushed a cigarette from the hand of existentialist writer Jean-Paul Sartre in a poster to advertise an exhibition.

On Wednesday, the cultural affairs committee almost unanimously backed the new bill that would exclude cultural heritage from the anti-smoking law.

"The falsification of history, the censorship of works of the mind, the denial of reality [...] should remain the ignominious mark of totalitarian regimes," said the bill proposed by the opposition Socialists.

All tobacco advertising and sponsorship on television was banned within the European Union since 1991 under the Television Without Frontiers Directive. It was extended in July 2005 to cover other forms of media such as the internet, print media, radio, and sports event like F1.

In 2007, France joined other European countries in banning smoking in public places.


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