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Smoking Underage is Sexual Assault?

Written by Katrina Moncure Feb 26, 2010

According to Droits des Non Fumeurs, anyway. Meaning “Non-Smokers’ Rights”, they’re fighting that ever-so-important battle of keeping people under 18 from smoking. And in this ever-so-important battle, they’ve whipped out an interesting kind of artillery… saying that smoking, being a “slave to tobacco”, is like being forced to perform oral sex!

The slogan is bland enough: “To smoke is to be a slave to tobacco.” But it accompanies photographs of an older man, his torso seen from the side, pushing down on the head of a teenage girl with a cigarette in her mouth. Her eyes are at belt level, glancing upward fearfully. The cigarette appears to emerge from the adult’s trousers.

Seriously?! This is what an anti-smoking group has resorted to… implying that making a personal choice about consuming a product is equivalent to being sexually violated by an older, stronger person. You can see the offending ads here.

And, of course, there’s the continued total disregard for teens’ humanity:

“The younger you begin to smoke, the stronger the addiction,” Mr. de la Fuente said in an interview. “But young people think they’re invincible. They like to flirt with danger.” He added that young people saw smoking as a symbol of emancipation, a passage to adulthood and a “transgressive act.”

The ads, he said, try to convince them that smoking is “an act of naïveté and submission.”

He continued: “We can’t be tepid on this subject; we have to hit hard. We are working against years of myth on the basis of films and stars, and we fight against this with zero euros.”

Oh, here we go! The old “young people think they’re invincible” crap. And I suppose all the adult smokers are choosing to smoke for better reasons? Yet they are free of you needing to “hit hard”. While it is the young people who must be given the stark “choice is slavery” message because they aren’t making a personal choice that you want them to make.

Sorry to break it to you, monsieur, but their bodies do not belong to you. Leurs corps ne sont pas ton propriété! Leurs vies ne sont pas ton propriété!

That’s right. Despite your little message that reduces the very real serious issue of sexual assault of youth into your gimmicky little anti-smoking campaign, I’ve just told you that you are the one looking to enslave the minds of young people. Many young people are victims of sexual assault, and while most of us decent people see that as an actual crisis, you see it as a marketing ploy. You make me sick.

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.”

I think I can agree with that. If the implication that making a “bad” choice and therefore being a slave is equivalent to being made to perform a sexual act unwillingly, perhaps the idea is that being made to perform that act unwillingly is the victim’s own fault somehow.

I know it may sound like a stretch, but when you consider what the real issue is here, not really. I mean, this group wants to stop people from smoking, sure, but just like pretty much every other group that wants to stop people from doing something they think is wrong, their primary, if not sole, target is young people. Why? Because nobody cares if you go after the personal habits of young people, because as we’ve seen repeatedly and I mentioned already above, people think young peoples’ lives, minds, and bodies are public property, open to everyone’s prying and scrutiny and dictation. And part of this is the idea that all young people must remain “pure”, living the ideal young person’s life that adults want them to live, that deviating from this ruins young people. Deviations include, say, smoking, which certainly ruins your innocence and purity somehow, and, say, being a victim of sexual assault, and in the world of adult privilege reigning over youth, one deviation is as bad as another, and deviation is always the fault of the youth. If they are now sullied, for whatever reason, it must be their own doing, and they should have listened to the adults who know better. So, yeah, I can see a bit more now the idea behind this message. And it is nauseating.

Bertrand Dautzenberg, president of the French Office for the Prevention of Smoking, doubted the ads would work. Quoted in Le Parisien, he said, “This will shock adults while not scaring kids.”

Exactly! Although, it’ll still shock some kids, the victims of such assault who will see these ads and be not only horrifyingly reminded of what happened to them, but having it trivialized into a message that is against their bodily autonomy, and even, as pointed out, possibly blames them for being victims. That’s pretty traumatic! But, hey, as long as they aren’t smoking, you guys couldn’t care less, right?

Except, of course, it’ll change no one’s smoking habits. So, really, what’s the point in all this? You know, other than the grand old pastime of degrading youth, of reminding them that if they step out of the adult-dictated mold, whether by choice or not, they are worthless? The answer? Rien!

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