debuts of the month
Search our site
Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner Read the opening extract of the brand new Susie Steiner book before its publication on 05/04/2018

Sex, Lies, and Cigarettes Canadian Women, Smoking, and Visual Culture, 1880-2000 by Sharon Anne Cook

Sex, Lies, and Cigarettes Canadian Women, Smoking, and Visual Culture, 1880-2000


Sex, Lies, and Cigarettes Canadian Women, Smoking, and Visual Culture, 1880-2000 by Sharon Anne Cook

Despite well documented health risks, young women are still drawn to the act of smoking and continue to smoke at an alarming rate. A century ago, women were vocal leaders of campaigns against tobacco across North America. In Sex, Lies, and Cigarettes, Sharon Anne Cook explores the history of the paradoxical relationship between women and the cigarette, in a sensitive and lively description of the many different meanings that smoking has held for women. Focusing on the social context of smoking, Cook explores its allure for elite, middle-class, working, and marginalized women from the late-nineteenth to the early twenty-first centuries. She argues that smoking's attraction is rooted in women's changing identity formation and in strategies for empowerment, an idea enriched through extensive analysis of visual culture. It is in these images (yearbooks, posters, photographic collages, print advertisements, billboards, movies) but also in the act of smoking itself, that women harnessed the power of the visual. Smoking remains a powerful way for women to express themselves and is closely connected to the processes of modernity, sexualization, and commodification of desire. Textual documents (newspapers, magazine features, textbooks, teachers' guides) and oral testimony are also explored to show how dominant discourses of smoking, sexuality, and health have shaped women's experiences and how women have moulded these discourses themselves. The first comprehensive study of women and smoking in Canada, Sex, Lies, and Cigarettes creates a rich portrait of the cultural factors that have resulted in over a century of women smokers.


...the compelling aspects of this book lie in its analysis of life stories, personal testimonies, memories, and photographs, which are skillfully drawn on to explain the many reasons women have used the cigarette over the last 130 years. It is not just a Attractively packaged, well illustrated, and complete with detailed notes and a bibliography, this first comprehensive study of women and smoking in Canada narrates the evolution of women's smoking from being regarded as sexy, sophisticated, and classy to being seen as selfish, undisciplined, dirty, and irresponsible. CHOICE Cook is able to integrate massive amounts of research [into] a wonderful narrative that convinces the reader that an inanimate object - the cigarette- has played a major role in the gendering of social practices and Canada's cultural landscape. This book is a must read. Pat Gentile, Carleton University

About the Author

Sharon Anne Cook is Distinguished University Professor at the University of Ottawa.

More books by this author
Author 'Like for Like' recommendations

Loading other formats...

Book Info

Publication date

11th April 2012


Sharon Anne Cook

More books by Sharon Anne Cook
Author 'Like for Like'


McGill-Queen's University Press


446 pages


Cultural studies
Personal & public health



Its jam packed with fantastic titles, informative descriptions & fantastic reviews and has a vast array of great features & competitions.

Linda Rollins

Lovereading always comes up with great suggestions and has introduced me to enjoyable books and new authors to discover.

Gaynor Passmore

Insightful reader reviews and unbiased recommendations. I don't know how I chose books before Lovereading! An essential for all book lovers.

Sarah Harper

Love Reading - it not only does what it says on the tin, it does it with Jam on!!

Maz Tucker

It is a website dedicated to those who adore reading It really is a one stop shop for book lovers. Love it!

Edel Waugh

I love Lovereading because of its ability to connect people that love books & unite them in a friendly, stimulating & interesting community.

Megan Olwen William

Lovereading has given me the opportunity to delve into new and exciting worlds of authors who I would never have tried before.

Glynis Elliott

You can trust Lovereading to show unbiased reviews by actual, ordinary readers that help likeminded booklovers choose their next great read.

Linda Hill