Smoking culture

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Since the introduction of tobacco to the world at large in the 1500s, a smoking culture has built around it, and is evident in many parts of the world to this day.

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Smoking as part of a glamorous life was also conveyed through the media. This image shows actress Marlene Dietrich who was well known for smoking.

Some people have an attraction to the glamorous aspect of tobacco smoking, and there are those who believe that done in moderation, smoking can enhance their allure. Historically considered a masculine habit, the feminization of smoking occurred with the advent of fashion brands or premium brands of cigarettes specifically marketed to appeal to women, who might see the use of these brands as a way to increase their sexual appeal. Most often this effort is focused on young fashion-conscious professional ladies who are the target demographic for these brands, which are differentiated by slimness, added length, and occasionally color, over traditional brands of cigarettes. As smoking was once a fairly integral part of society, this attraction cannot in all senses be considered a fetish or paraphilia.

Accessories for smoking include personal cigarette cases, often-artistic ashtrays, ornate lighters and cigarette holders, long slender tubes in which cigarettes are held while smoked. Most frequently made of silver, jade or bakelite (popular in the past but now wholly replaced by modern plastics), cigarette holders were considered an essential part of ladies' fashion from the 1900s through the mid-1960s, and are still popular in many strands of Japanese fashion.

During the colonial and early American period, men and women alike smoked fragile greenware clay pipes, few of which survive today.

Originating in the Middle East, smoking with a hookah or water-pipe to cool the smoke, by filtering it through a vase of water, has gained in popularity in Western Europe and the United States in recent years. Often ice and milk or lemon juice is added to the water. Traditionally, the tobacco is mixed with a sweetener, such as honey or molasses, although fruit flavors have also become popular.

In the media and popular culture, smoking has been an aspect of storyline and character development for at least the last two centuries, appearing in books, films and more recently on television, though there has been a movement to minimize this since the mid-1960s. In the United States and Western Europe, smoking appeared in television commercials through the early 1970s, and is still seen in Japan today, even for non-related products.

From the 1920s through the mid-1960s, portraits and photographs of elegantly dressed ladies and gentlemen posing with a cigarette or cigar were popular, and many period photos actors and actresses are shown in such poses.

As part of a table setting during the 1950s and 1960s, small personal ashtrays were commonly placed on the top right-hand side, behind the wine and water glasses.

With smoking bans becoming increasingly common in the United States, cigarette manufacturers have turned to south and east Asia, in which places there is a distinct market for female oriented brands, and to the nouveau riche in Russia. Brands intended to appeal to women include decorative ones like Eve, Virginia Slims, or evening-out styles like Sobranie Cocktail or Sobranie Black Russian.

Related culture

Although not properly for smoking, a tobacco-related accessory that was very popular from the discovery of tobacco by Europeans until the late 1800s was the snuff box (or box for any type of loose tobacco), which, if the owner was wealthy, could be made of precious materials such as gold or silver, and receive all manner of decoration. Many surviving examples are works of art of high value.

See also


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