Images of Food and Tobacco
TOBACCO AS PART OF A MEAL. Before tobacco was banished from tables in many restaurants and homes, smoking was a common meal accompaniment and in some circumstances constituted a course in itself, or at least a component of dessert. This page includes advertizements showing people enjoying cigarettes with their dinner and products designed to facilitate mealtime smoking and make it seem normal (what anthropologists refer to as the "material culture" of smoking), including some from my own collection of women's smoking artifacts.
TOBACCO AS A DIETING TOOL. Nicotine suppresses appetite and enhances metabolism, and smokers weigh an average of 10 pounds less than their nonsmoking peers. Cigarettes thus represent a tool for weight management in a culture where a preference for slimness - in some cases excessive slimness - conflicts with changes in nutrition and activity level that tend to promote weight increase.
BLURRING THE LINE BETWEEN FOOD AND TOBACCO. Sugar, enhanced through flue-curing and added via sweeteners, is what allows relatively easy inhalation of cigarette smoke, and deep inhalation into the lungs is what makes nicotine administration via cigarette-smoking so much more addictive than any other route of administration. So the cigarette is, at its very core, a "candied-up contraption," as Robert Proctor puts it in his recent book, Golden Holocaust. Food mix-ins are routinely used to seduce children into tobacco use - for example, via low-priced starter products laced with food or food-like ingredients intended to make them mild and sweet, via hookah bars and shisha cafes peddling intensely food-flavored tobacco to college students, and most recently via flavored e-cigarettes. Quirkier examples include those chichi New York restaurants that, with the introduction and enforcement of clean indoor air policies, experimented - mercifully briefly - with tobacco as a dessert ingredient, to satisfy their smoking customers' desire to end the meal with a dose of nicotine; and of course the "Nicotini."
TOBACCO AS AN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCT. Over ten million acres of land urgently needed for cultivation of food crops – enough to produce an annual tobacco crop of 6.7 million tons, enough to feed 10-20 million people – are diverted to tobacco production. These acres cannot readily be restored to agricultural food production because of the heavy pesticide application and leaching of nutrients associated with tobacco production. Wood, the primary source of cooking fuel in many regions, is extensively used for tobacco curing. The resulting deforestation contributes to climate change with potentially devastating effects on agricultural food production globally.