CRESIDA, G070, Whitelands
Kirsten Bell from the University of Roehampton will be presenting in the CRESIDA seminar series on the material agency of the cigarette packet.
In recent years, cigarette packets have become the site of considerable legislative attention based on the premise that branded cigarette packaging acts as a ‘silent salesman’ for smoking. According to this perspective, the cigarette packet has a particular sort of agency, but one rooted entirely in its communicative powers rather than its material qualities. Drawing together insights gleaned through a decade of research with smokers in Canada, an analysis of archives in the Truth Tobacco Industry Documents Library, and scholarship on materiality and containerization, I reconsider this view. Taking up the idea of containers – and enclosures more broadly – as undertheorized forms of materiality, I argue that the cigarette packet has powerful, albeit largely invisible, physical consequences on the circulation of cigarettes and the practice of smoking itself.