Tricia StarksJan 11, 2023
Cigarettes and Soviets
Smoking in the USSR
Cornell University Press 2022
Seeing cigarette smoking as a cultural phenomenon of Western modernity is perhaps easier when the test case is outside the US where the narrative is dominated by Big Bad Tobacco and litigation. Tricia Starks's two volume study does just that. Her second volume, Cigarettes and Soviets: Smoking in the USSR (Cornell University Press, 2022) traces the rise and fall of cigarettes during the Soviet period. (Her first volume covered the pre-Revolutionary era.) In a beautifully written and jargon-free account illustrated with dozens of color plates, Starks tracks how the early revolutionaries tried unsuccessfully to combat mass smoking, how subsequent Soviet leaders made peace with it, and how in the post-war period, Soviet health authorities slowly made inroads against smoking, albeit with different arguments than those used in the anti-tobacco campaigns in the West.
Daniel Peris is Senior Vice President at Federated Hermes in Pittsburgh. He can be reached at DanielxPeris@gmail.com or via Twitter @HistoryInvestor. His History and Investing blog and Keep Calm & Carry On Investing podcast are here.