Injecting morality into films is ‘like pouring cola into a Château Lafite’, one critic of idea declares

The French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo spent almost an entire film – the 1960s classic À Bout du Souffle (Breathless) – with a Gauloise dangling from his lips. Audrey Tautou portrayed the designer Coco Chanel pinning haute couture dresses while smoking. Jacques Tati was rarely without his pipe and Brigitte Bardot, Jeanne Moreau, Catherine Deneuve, Gérard Depardieu and Alain Delon all puffed their way through decades of movies.

Hardly surprising then that a call for French directors to stub out smoking on screen has been greeted with a mix of disbelief and outright ridicule. It has also prompted the existential question: what would French cinema be without the cigarette?

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