Why are smoking rooms disappearing from airports?
A turning point in the cultural history of smoking
L.I.S.A .: In our societies, smoking has long been regarded as evidence of the ability to enjoy, coolness and adulthood. Up until the 1990s, for example, there was hardly a feature film that did not feature smoking. On TV shows like that International morning pint You could hardly see the guests because of the smoke. Until the 1980s, people smoked together with professors during seminars and lectures. And even in front of the delivery room people were smoking nervously. Today these pictures look like pictures from a time long past. How do you explain this change?
Aufenvenne: We have a multitude of iconic images that are burned into our collective memories. What would be left of James Dean and Humphrey Bogart without smoking? What would Marlene Dietrich or Audrey Hepburn be without the cigarette? I agree with you that we perceive these images as relics of times long past. This change, which you describe in your question, can be explained by the cultural-historical parameters as well as the ideas and attributions associated with tobacco consumption. We can trace this on the basis of the forms of consumption. Pipe smoking was the most common form of use from the 16th to the 18th century, while chewing tobacco played a subordinate role from the start, as it was more found in the lower classes, for example among farmers, soldiers and seamen. Sniffing tobacco, which emerged in the 18th century and was equally respected by women and men, went out of fashion at the end of the century, as did chewing and pipe smoking: two innovations, the cigar and later the cigarette, appeared as new forms of tobacco consumption.
In the course of the medicalization of society, the categories of risk and addiction have been closely related to smoking. In spite of all of this, despite the undisputed knowledge about the health dangers of smoking, when looking at the medical treatment of tobacco from a cultural and historical perspective, the impression arises that social and cultural factors as well as symbolic meanings are underestimated or ignored. In other words: Smoking was and is always a social product and a social challenge in equal measure.
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