Many UK newspapers ran a story yesterday about anti-smoking advertisements in France that depicted teenagers in a pose suggesting fellatio with a cigarette. They reported that this had caused an uproar in France, with critics arguing it is offensive and suggests a false analogy between oral sex and smoking.
They even quoted Antoinette Fouqe of the French ‘Movement for Women’s Liberation’ as saying “As far as I know, the practice of fellatio does not cause cancer”.
Perhaps Ms. Fouque should undertake more research before she criticizes these ads because there is robust and generalisable evidence showing that oral sex is now the leading cause of cancer of the mouth and throat, caused by the HPV virus. Fellatio and cunnilingus have overtaken tobacco in recent years as the primary cause for this type of cancer, particularly among young people.
This injudicious comment by Ms. Fouque could leave young adults ignorant of the risks of this type of sexual behaviour.