Smoke Ring: The Japanese Smokers’ Wives Study and the American Anti-Tobacco Movement

Thursday Lecture Series, Altered States

  • Rebecca Woods
  • Audience open exclusively to Columbia faculty, and students
  • All others interested in attending, please email SOF/Heyman at [email protected].

In 1981, the British Medical Journal published the results of a Japanese study that concluded that the nonsmoking wives of smoking husbands were twice as likely to die from lung cancer as women whose husbands did not smoke. In the United States, the Japanese “Smokers’ Wives Study” bolstered the claims of the lively and determined nonsmokers' rights movement, adding quantitative validation to activists' claims that they should not have to breathe in other people’s smoke. This talk examines the intertwined circulation of commodities and knowledge around the world: how American tobacco exports to Japan inadvertently fueled the nonsmokers’ rights movement in the United States.