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Vis Anthropol Rev. 2009 May 1;25(1):1-24.

Trafficking in tobacco farm culture: Tobacco companies use of video imagery to undermine health policy.

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  • 1Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California, San Francisco, 530 Parnassus Ave, Ste 366, San Francisco, CA 94143-1390.


The cigarette companies and their lobbying organization used tobacco industry-produced films and videos about tobacco farming to support their political, public relations, and public policy goals. Critical discourse analysis shows how tobacco companies utilized film and video imagery and narratives of tobacco farmers and tobacco economies for lobbying politicians and influencing consumers, industry-allied groups, and retail shop owners to oppose tobacco control measures and counter publicity on the health hazards, social problems, and environmental effects of tobacco growing. Imagery and narratives of tobacco farmers, tobacco barns, and agricultural landscapes in industry videos constituted a tobacco industry strategy to construct a corporate vision of tobacco farm culture that privileges the economic benefits of tobacco. The positive discursive representations of tobacco farming ignored actual behavior of tobacco companies to promote relationships of dependency and subordination for tobacco farmers and to contribute to tobacco-related poverty, child labor, and deforestation in tobacco growing countries. While showing tobacco farming as a family and a national tradition and a source of jobs, tobacco companies portrayed tobacco as a tradition to be protected instead of an industry to be regulated and denormalized.

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