New book examines impact of U.S. tobacco industry

 

Most research that focuses on tobacco examines health risks associated with smoking, says Peter Benson, PhD, a sociocultural anthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis.

What has been neglected is research on tobacco production in the United States, and specifically on the people who work and live in the rural, traditional tobacco-growing areas of North Carolina.

Benson’s new book, Tobacco Capitalism (Princeton University Press, 2011), examines the impact of the transformation of the tobacco industry on farmers, workers and the American public. It reveals public health threats, the impact of off-shoring, and the immigration issues related to tobacco production.

The book also examines the new public relations strategies of the tobacco industry and its recent corporate social responsibility “makeover”.

“There are whole groups of people — farmers and farm workers — in our society who dedicate themselves to growing a crop that is vilified,” says Benson, assistant professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences. 

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