When we were told that France Télévisions was preparing a big concert on the occasion of the “Month without tobacco”, we were initially struck with incomprehension. How can a program bringing together singers and comedians contribute to the fight against smoking in France? Commissioned by Santé Publique France, the public service nevertheless managed to create an original concept for this month of weaning, to encourage participants to continue their efforts or those who are hesitant to try the challenge.
Since 2006, smokers have been invited to put away their pack of cigarettes every November, and even more if they wish. With Breathe, television and public radio are committed to giving a pat on the back to smokers who take part in the challenge. Already broadcast on Culturebox and France Bleu, the show will be broadcast on France 3 this Friday and remains available on the France Télévisions platform at least until the end of the month.
But then how does public broadcasting try to boost the health event with a musical program, far from the annual fundraisers of Restos du Coeur or Sidaction? 20 minutes met the various stakeholders who participated in the development of this project, which is a world first.
Focus on the “collective aspect”
“This entertainment program format is a first in public health,” rejoices Justine Avenel, Mois Sans Tabac project manager at Public Health France. It was the national public health agency that proposed this format to public broadcasting.
Its objective is to “make concrete the collective aspect of the month without tobacco”. In short, the show is above all a boost for the participants in these 30 days of weaning, to show them that they are not alone and that others have been there before them. “Operation Tobacco-Free Month is spread over a long period of time. We start in October to encourage smokers to register and then throughout the month of November, we have to support each other to hold on. That’s why the show only arrived in mid-November, ”justifies Justine Avenel. It is for this reason that the broadcast of the program is organized on several channels, on television and radio and on different dates.
Along with traditional advertising campaigns and awareness-raising actions, the program is an “additional lever” to “inject something new after the Covid-19 pandemic”. “If we manage to quit smoking for a month, we are five times more likely to quit completely,” adds Églantine Éméyé, chosen to host this special evening. It is therefore proud to be able to participate in this momentum when Santé Publique France still estimates that 75,000 people still die each year in France because of smoking, raising cigarettes to the rank of “first cause of avoidable mortality” in France.
The “complicated relationship” of artists to cigarettes
The show sees taking turns on stages of artists from all walks of life such as Patrick Bruel, Garou, Mentissa, Suzane, Mickey 3D or the groups Louise Attaque and Hyphen Hyphen. Their musical performances are interspersed with humorous interludes where celebrities from the entertainment world unravel the risks associated with smoking, but also with their own secrets about cigarettes. “The show shows that stars of music or humor engage in the challenge,” explains Alexandra Redde-Amiel, director of games, entertainment and variety at France Télévisions.
It is for this reason that she went to speak to the artists before starting the recording. “Some came to the fore when they were young and didn’t want to say, ‘I smoke,'” she comments. Many of them have already made plenty of attempts to quit. Finally, the show allows you to play down the drama and to tell yourself that we are really all in the same boat… ”