French Cigarette Censors


President Jacques Chirac of France made cancer research one of his priorities and created a smoking ban in public places. However, before 1988, he himself was a public smoker–there were thousands of pictures showing the young politico enjoying a cigarette, but the above picture has recently become the latest victim of the anti-tobacco zeal that prevails these days in France.

A dangling clope was a trademark of the younger Chirac, as it was of most French stars of the last half century. The picture, which was to cover the first volume of president’s memoirs, is a nice atmospheric shot from the 1980s of the pensive prime minister of the time. It would not have made much sense without the cigarette, but the president’s staff objected to the cigarette, delaying the book’s publication.

Although historic pictures are not covered by the 1991 Evin law, which prohibits “all propaganda or publicity, direct or indirect, in favour of tobacco and its products,” in recent years, smokes and cigarettes have been purged from pictures of Catherine Deneuve, Alain Delon, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Charles de Gaulle, André Malraux, and Jacques Tati.

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The Christian Dior perfume company was widely criticised in the spring for removing a cigarette from a 1960s portrait of actor Alain Delon which it is using in a current campaign.


The Paris transport system (RATP) refused to carry film posters of Audrey Tautou starring as Coco Chanel because her character was smoking.

Mr Hulot windmill

The RATP tried to remove the iconic pipe from the mouth of Jacques Tati’s character, Monsieur Hulot, prompting a full-scale row. They ignominiously replaced it with a papier-mache windmill.

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2 thoughts on “French Cigarette Censors

  1. Wow! This reminds me of how the Russians could make a person a Non Person by taking them out of pictures in the history books. So much for the French being progressive. More like Repressive!
    Bill Pappy Ferrara

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