Sunday, March 13, 2011

40 Days of Lent: Day Five

My mother had promised her hairdresser that she would bring him back a pack of French cigarettes. He didn't request any particular brand, just wanted French cigarettes.

While wandering underground through the maze of shops and less important artworks near the Louvre, we spotted a tobacconist that also sold tickets to the museum. Two birds, one stone. While buying my ticket, I asked if I could also have some cigarettes, pointing to a pretty white pack among the many choices on the wall.

"Which one?" the clerk asked.

"Le 'Fumer Tue,' s'il vous plait."


Thinking I was mispronouncing the name, I repeated it and pointed. "Non, non, le Fumer Tue...les blancs...ah, oui. Merci."

While ringing them up, the clerk said in English "Do you know what 'Fumer Tue' means?"

"Non, non."

"'Smoking Kills.'"

It wasn't the name of the brand, it was the blunt warning on the pack. So yes, I stood in front of a line of people wanting to buy tobacco and kept repeating "Can I have the Smoking Kills cigarettes? No, not those. The Smoking Kills ones. Yes, thank you."


wpbooks said...

Back in the early 90's there was this piece of genius marketing:

Happily, I still have an unopened pack or two in my collection of general chazzerai! A grand smoke if I remember correctly!

the hanged man said...

To be honest, I doubt how effective graphic or blunt warnings on cigarette packs are. Everyone knows that they cause cancer and a host of other diseases, but people are able to deny a great deal. Someone else will get emphysema, someone else will get lung cancer, not me.

In a way, I think "Death" cigarettes and the like allow people to treat the threat like it's a joke.

wpbooks said...

As a stupid smoking teenager/twentysomething, my friends and I always kind of saw the Surgeon General's warning as more of a dare...Obviously Death Cigarettes were a bit of a joke, but a dark one, to be sure. I never thought they were selling something any different than RJ Reynolds, etc...they were just a bit more truthful and to the point....


I love this story.

Iva said...

I am happy that Jerry didn't expect me to know what the "brand name" was. Although, on the other hand, maybe it would have been better for him if I were able to translate.