Frieke Janssens’s Controversial Photos of Smoking Kids

Nov 28, 2011 3 comments

A few months ago smoking was banned in all public places in Belgium. Photographer Frieke Janssens responded with “surrealistic, melancholic and theatrical but especially controversial pictures of smoking kids” to visualise the contradiction of the unhealthy cigarette and the immense attraction of smoking.

The children, aged four to nine, are shameless posing while enjoying their cigarette or cigarillo. So why kids? By portraying adults as children all  the attention went to the smoking. An adult would draw to much attention to the portrayed person. Thus these portraits evoke question such as: is the smoking ban the right way to get rid of an absurd addiction and are smokers treated like little kids who can’t make the difference between good and bad? While Frieke doesn’t give answers, the portraits are strong enough to start your thinking process!

Frieke got the idea after seeing a YouTube video a two-year old Indonesian smoker who smokes 40 cigarettes a day.

It may comfort you to know that none of the children were exposed to actual cigarette smoke through the photo shoots — the cigarettes were actually made of cheese! Watch video of the photo shoot after the pictures.







Sources: 1, 2


  1. At first I was appalled by the idea of using images of kids smoking to make an art statement, but after reading his explanation, I think I get what he has tried to do. It's pretty original, if you ask me...

  2. I agree. Besides, with all the rules and law, people aren't smoking any less. So something isn't working. Perhaps better nicotine alternatives? I've asked smokers and always get the same answer: they'd love to stop, they've tried everything, nothing worked! Time to stop wasting $ on stupid campaigns and laws and spend it on medical solutions instead! (I'm convinced! I'll take 2!)

  3. read the aricle it sais they werent acctually smoking


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