Do You Actually Want Young People to Quit Smoking?

Nothing says you should quit smoking like conflating sexual assault with the effects of cigarettes. Via the NYTimes, a feminist activist in France speaks out,

But the reaction on the Web site of Droits des Non-fumeurs has been mixed. One comment read, “The campaign trivializes sexual abuse — worse, it implies guilt on the part of the abused.”
Florence Montreynaud, the president of La Meute des Chiennes de Garde, or the Pack of Female Watchdogs, which opposes symbols of sexual violence in films and advertising, called the ads “unbearable” and said “what is most shocking is the banalization of sexual violence.”
She is a feminist, she said, and a longtime member of Droits des Non-fumeurs. “But it is terrible to represent in the public space this kind of image restricted to pornography,” she added. “I’m appalled. It’s a poverty of imagination. When people have no ideas, they use female bodies.”

These ads are not edgy to me at all. They are just gross.

Join the Conversation

  • BackOfBusEleven

    It’s really sexual slavery they’re belittling here. I believe that caption reads “Smoking is being a slave to tobacco.”

  • Brittany-Ann

    Ironically enough, now I really want a cigarette. Those ridiculous ads stress me out, and bring back memories I don’t care to remember.

  • Nancy Shrew

    I agree that they are really gross and just “no” in general.
    But how sad (and telling) is it that my first thought was “Well, at least they have a guy version”?

  • Mighty Ponygirl
  • Icewyche

    *sigh* Plus ca change, plus la meme chose. Who says American ad agencies have a monopoly on fucked-up-ness?

  • Steph

    I think his concept is appropriate and effectively executed. These ads say: having a tobacco addiction is like being forced to suck corporate dick. These ads accuse BIg Tobacco of manipulating young people into smoking.

  • Steph

    I think this concept is appropriate, effective, and well executed. It says: having a tobacco addiction is like being forced to suck corporate dick. These ads accuse Big Tobacco of manipulating young people into smoking.

  • Kim C.

    I’m not sure why this is trivializing sexual assault: both the man and woman in the posters (the people sucking on the cigarettes) don’t have expressions that look like they’re unhappy or scared. They just look…I don’t know, kind of bland. And the hand atop their head doesn’t look especially forceful, either. Am I missing something?

  • Dawn.

    WOW. Smoking = sexual slavery??? Um, no France. No. That doesn’t even make sense as a comparison. Smoking is a choice. Sexual assault and sexual slavery have nothing to do with choice. Thanks France, for proving that you can victim-blame with the best of us. Douche bags.

  • Athenia

    I’m pissed for male bosses.
    And ironically, your boss probably wants you to stop smoking so their healthcare costs don’t go up.

  • Athenia

    Hey Samhita, I just have a minor comment–the words “That’s gross” kinda rubs me the wrong way. I think Miriam also used it in her reaction to the vagina mouse. I know you guys are refering to the sexism, but I think it’s easy to associate something different as “gross” or “dirty.” For example, I could mistake the gross comment as a reaction to the molestation featured in this ad. It’s almost like telling a person who has been molested that what happened to them was gross and therefore saying they are gross. I mean, I know Miriam meant the sexism was gross, but people call vaginas “gross” enough.
    Maybe this is just me though.

  • liv79

    “When people have no ideas, they use female bodies.”


    One ad campaign – three different types of FAIL!
    1) They are totally trivializing rape
    2) They are also making it look like it is inherently undignified and slave-like to give a blow job (even one offered with enthusiastic consent)
    3) They are using homophobia to influence straight boys (smoking = performing oral sex on a man = gay – which simplifies to smoking = gay)

  • allegra

    It seems to me that the ads imply, more than “slave,” that you’re a slut for the tobacco company, and I can see where the victim-blaming comes in here. Like tobacco addiction, it suggests there’s some kind of coercion involved. Both of these are well-dressed, clean, middle-class kids whom we’re supposed to think just “keep going back for more” of their own accord even though they know they’re “really” being used, which puts some culpability on their shoulders. Which, in the case of sexual coercion, is fucked up.
    More generally, with implications for all sexual culture, I also dislike that this draws on the cultural symbolism that makes sucking dick some kind of act of the man’s power over you. I fucking hate that. No, your dick is not powerful. No, sex is not only about power and dominance. No, you cannot just randomly equate sucking dick with surrendering your worth as a human being. It’s just more unnecessary mixing of sex and violence, and draws on ideas that men primarily get off sexually on dominating people.

  • char3169

    i just want to point out that you failed to include the male versions of this ad. i’ve seen as least one of these posters with a young male at the smoking end of the cigarette.
    Also, sometimes we need to step back and look at the fact that sometimes, things are not as they seem. sex does not, in this case, mean sex. this is merely an example of an idea being interpreted incorrectly.

  • Ellie

    “Um, no France. (…) Thanks France”
    Hum, I don’t think ‘France’ is exactly a person you can really talk to, you know ? It’s, like, a country, with, like sixty millions of people who don’t necessarily have a particularly unified opinion on everything.

  • Ellie

    Yeah, I completely agree with that. The justification they had was that blowjob was supposed to be a symbolism for submission because, obviously, blowjob is necessarily submissive in itself.