On Wednesday, the public act that perhaps most epitomized the French as sexy, debonair, sultry, brooding -- and perhaps more than a little susceptible to cancer -- was snuffed out by the government.
This was not a decision taken lightly. Magazines ran nostalgic photo-spreads reminding us that French people look seriously cool with a fag in their mouth - as illustrated by Charles de Gaulle, Brigitte Bardot and the ambassador for nicotine-enhanced thinking, Jean-Paul Sartre. Even president Nicolas Sarkozy, painfully image-conscious, posed for Paris Match wrestling with a fat cigar. STORY