Accepted Paper:

Tobacco, infectious disease, and global public health  
Peter Benson (Washington University)

Paper long abstract:

Although tobacco is far more associated with chronic disease than infectious disease, the anthropology of international tobacco leaf production is an essential context for understanding the expansion and clustering of infectious diseases in developing countries. This paper takes into account the colonial and postcolonial organization of land use geared to intensive tobacco export production, and shows how this political economy helped make the social conditions around infectious disease. The paper shows how the environmental, social, and health problems that are related to tobacco cultivation in postcolonial contexts are also crucial supports for the development of infectious disease vectors and important challenges to the public health. I conclude with a discussion of why emerging alternative livelihoods interventions, rural mental health surveillance and treatment efforts, and environmental labor standards are central issues for tobacco control in this century, and the relevance of agricultural and medical anthropology for studying them.

Panel W033
Tobacco and the anthropological imagination