Today, when we think of smoking, we imagine it as a habit and an industry that are in decline. The reality? Tobacco corporations today are as powerful
I used to be a smoker; my father was too. At the end of 2007, when he was defeated by cancer, I started asking myself questions. As I tried to find a
reason for such a tragic occurrence, I began reading more and more about the tobacco industry. I gradually realized that tobacco touches upon the
wellbeing of many people as well as the environment.
In 2008 I started a long-term project, digging up what lies beneath the apparent simplicity of a cigarette. I have documented tobacco farming and
processing, cigarette manufacturing, sales, and marketing, and finally consumption. Every step of the way I found an industry that is impacting every
corner of the globe.
My investigation first led me to Asia: India and China are amongst the largest producers and consumers of tobacco, with a wide array of industrial
models ranging from the traditional hand-rolled bidi to ultra-modern factories. I also traveled to Indonesia, where there are no restrictions on
tobacco advertising. Tobacco brands there finance sport competitions and music festivals to target consumers at the youngest possible age.
In order to complete my investigation, I need to visit several other countries. Among them, the US is especially important, since smoking is
historically associated with the myth of the Marlboro Man. Although cigarettes consumption is declining in this country, tobacco still plays an
important role in its economy and society.
I want to visit the US next year because 2012 marks the 400th anniversary of the first successful tobacco plantations on American soil. Thanks to this
crop, planted by James Rolf, Jamestown became the first self-sustained settlement, the first step in its eventual independence from England.
I plan to document various aspects of the industry: from farming issues including child labor and immigration, to the facilities of the tobacco giants
like Philip Morris, to the cultural links that persist in American society between people and the tobacco industry.
I hope you find this project worthy of your support. As a backer, you will help me carry on with my work, which once completed will be released as a
book and a traveling exhibition, in addition to an iPad application.