Paper long abstract:
The tagline of recent tobacco control campaigns in England reads 'let's make smoking history for our children'. It is a call for everyone to engage in an imaginative quest and, in the North East of England, to stop approximately 10,000 smokers aged 11 to 15 becoming the adult smokers of tomorrow. In UK public health terms, for our more deprived communities failure would constitute a crisis of continuing disease, loss of quality life years and of increasing health inequalities.
Grounded in comparative ethnographic research conducted with young people in the region, this paper will consider some of the challenges to success in achieving a tobacco free future. In addition to mundane matters such as peer pressure, examples include the impact of post-industrialisation and the local community as apparently willing participant in the global trade in illicit tobacco. When such macro forces stand as potential barriers, what can the imagination achieve?
Tobacco and the anthropological imagination