Smoke Screen: An Ethnographic Study of a Cigar Shop's Collective Rationalization

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29 Scopus citations


It is the purpose of this ethnographic study to explain why efforts from the medical establishment, the press, and friends and family are unsuccessful in persuading a group of men at a local cigar shop to stop smoking. I also seek to determine how these men create a linguistic defense shield that, ironically, protects them from the anxiety that such messages are designed to produce. I argue that the regulars at the shop collectively craft and share 6 prosmoking arguments that (a) rebuke the findings of the medical establishment, (b) anesthetize the regulars from the impact of antismoking messages, and (c) relieve cognitive dissonance and anxiety created by the act of smoking. I establish a theoretical foundation for the study, describe how the regulars craft and converge their collective narratives, and detail the 6 collectively created prosmoking narratives most frequently used by the regulars in countering antismoking messages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-198
Number of pages32
JournalHealth Communication
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This growth in popularity has also generated increased interest by health researchers. Before 1988, cigar-smoking research was virtually ignored by the medical establishment. By 1996, however, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Massachusetts, New York, and California Departments of Public Health; American Cancer Society; NCI; Roswell Park Cancer Institute; and U.S. Surgeon General, David Satcher, began devoting proportionate attention to “America’s newest fad.” Faced with this new inundation of varied and diverse research on the subject, the NCI, in collaboration with over 50 scientists both within and outside the Federal Government, created a 247-page monograph systematically reviewing the complete corpus of cigar-smoking research.10 The following are the most significant conclusions to emerge from this report given the scope and function of this study:

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication


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