For more than 40 years, France has made the fight against smoking one of its priorities in terms of public health. Responsible for 73,000 deaths per year in France, smoking is the top cause of avoidable death. Legislative and statutory measures, research, community initiatives, help for smokers, support for associations… smoking prevention policy has traditionally relied, and continues to rely today, on many different levers among which communication has always played a central part. By providing information and solutions to smokers and to their family and friends, by keeping the fight against smoking on the social and political agenda, by legitimising public action and by attempting to make things happen in terms of representations on the ground, the communication campaigns by the Comité Français d’Education pour la Santé (the French Committee for Health Education, CFES), which later became the Institut National de Prévention et d’Education pour la Santé (the National Institute for Prevention and Health Education,  INPES), have gone hand in hand with important changes to the law in France. Moreover, from this point onwards this vital role is being officially recognised: in the new acronym MPOWER for the six effective strategies, introduced by the World Health Organisation in 2008 to facilitate memorising the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), public information on the dangers of smoking (the ‘W’ stands for Warn) covers not only health warnings but also campaigns in the media.

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