France split over smoking link to Chereau death

PARIS- When one of a country's most brilliant artists has just died, is it appropriate for a government minister to point out that the heavy smoker succumbed to lung cancer?
That was the question exercising France on Tuesday as the country mourned the loss to the disease of acclaimed film, theatre and opera director Patrice Chereau, at the age of 68.

France split over smoking link to Chereau death
Michele Delaunay, the minister for the elderly, sparked the debate after the announcement late Monday of Chereau's death due to what most French media described as a "long illness".
Delaunay, in contrast, tweeted: "Chereau dead as a result of lung cancer: is it not time for cigarettes to be locked away in a cabinet for poison and sold only in pharmacies."
The comment immediately triggered accusations on social media of the government health police exploiting a high-profile death for their own ends. "Inappropriate," "undignified" and "shameful" were among the critical responses that recurred.
The furore forced the minister to respond, which she did by pointing out that she was speaking out as a qualified doctor.
"I can no longer bear people dying because of tobacco," she wrote. "It is immensely sad to see, once again, a talented man struck down by a legal weapon."
Delaunay's call for cigarette sales to be restricted to pharmacies came as a proposal to do that for e-cigarettes was being discussed by the European Parliament. MEPs threw out the proposal on Tuesday but approved an anti-smoking bill.

Monday, October 14th 2013

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