Paper long abstract:
Tobacco control laws in the US have been shown to both reflect and hasten smoking denormalization among the general population. Our ethnographic researches on tobacco use among Asian migrants and Asian American immigrants in California indicate that tobacco's social aspects may impede the adoption of new norms and policies for these groups. Traditional values regarding respect and shame conflicted with new norms and policies restricting tobacco use in many public and some private contexts. The exchange value of tobacco in social and ritual settings conflicted with new images of tobacco as "poison." We draw on the example of Native American tobacco control programs that effectively focus on commercialized tobacco separate from ritual use, and suggest that a similar culturally-nuanced approach to prevention and policy among migrants from Asia can honor traditional norms about tobacco even as new norms restricting tobacco use can be fostered.
Tobacco and the anthropological imagination