Nothing is more antithetical to the aesthetic of a French new wave film than a packet of cigarettes labeled with grotesque images of rotting body parts. Except, perhaps, a pack of cigarettes with no branding on it at all.
The French Health Ministry announced at the end of March that smoke shops throughout France will have to vend cigarettes in plain packaging, free of logos. It’s a lot to ask of the country that gave us Gauloises, Gitanes, and a rich cinematic history of chain smokers with flawless skin.
Like many countries that have tried to regulate their cigarette packaging, France is getting legal pushback from tobacco companies. Japan Tobacco International—which owns Camel and Winston, among others—is contesting the law in court.
The restrictions in France are but one facet of the mounting international criticism of tobacco companies. Countries have been more willing as of late to take substantial action, forcing tobacco companies to adopt creative advertising strategies. In an article published Monday on The Verge about the new French laws, Amar Toor writes,
“Tobacco companies have faced increasingly tight restrictions on branding in recent decades, with some or all forms of advertising banned in many countries. Their logos have also had to compete with ever-larger health warnings on cigarette packs, forcing some to develop more creative packaging. Benson and Hedges has created a side-opening pack that has allowed it to minimize the health warnings, while brands like Vogue have long used slim “lipstick” packs to the same effect.”’