[Marxism] The cigarette - a political history

Dennis Brasky dmozart1756 at gmail.com
Fri Nov 8 06:47:30 MST 2019

The Cigarette – a Political History

On March 2019, writers Danuta Kean and Isobel de Vasconcellos released The
Emilia Report
comparing how 10 male and female writers received broadsheet coverage in
the same book market necessary for literary recognition. Perhaps to no
one’s surprise
their survey uncovered that new books by men receive 56% of review
coverage. Despite being bestselling authors, two female subjects received
no coverage of their books in newspapers. This market bias against female
writers certainly is nothing new. Indeed, England’s first published female
poet — Emilia Bassano, whom the report is named after — struggled to
sustain a living as a writer, received limited recognition, and was
completely overshadowed by male poets.

I bring up market bias and power balance to highlight the circumstances
prior to the release of Sarah Milov’s book, *The Cigarette: A Political
when historians N.D.B. Connolly and Edward Ayers appeared on NPR’s “Here
and Now.” The show’s researchers heavily relied on Milov’s book as well as
Nan Enstad’s *Cigarettes, Inc.: An Intimate History of Corporate
<https://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/C/bo27540234.html>* for
the segment. Though Connolly tweeted shout-outs to both women, neither one
of them were mentioned in the segment – nor, for that matter, even invited
to participate in a conversation that heavily built on their work. For
Milov, a tenure-track professor at the University of Virginia, the omission
meant her book was not marketed
NPR’s five million listeners. Everyone involved apologized and explained
that it was not malicious intent
but omissions like this are an indication of a broader problem
<https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/172594> that disproportionately
tends to affect women.

*The Cigarette* is a fascinating book on a quintessential American product.
By looking beyond Big Tobacco, Milov illustrates surprising
interconnections between twentieth-century social movements that coalesced
around the cigarette, including environmentalists, activists, labor unions,
tobacco farmers, and even cigarette manufacturers. Above all, this is an
important book on the politics and power of citizen activism against
industry doubt-mongering and government regulation that worked against
citizens’ best interests. It’s also a stark reminder of the importance of
elevating women historians and acknowledging gender disparities in how
research is used and disseminated to the public — something that NPR is
apparently closely examining
its internal policies.


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