An impending tobacco-related mortality crisis in the 'Global South' invites us to 'imagine a world without tobacco'. Anthropological approaches and collaborations with public health are becoming increasingly common, encouraging 'outside the box' thinking on tobacco and other public health concerns.
The prospect of an exponential rise in mortality due to tobacco use, primarily in the 'Global South', gives a renewed sense of urgency to those working in the field of tobacco control, and the invitation to imagine a world without tobacco. Such a scenario may seem utopian, yet the movement towards what is termed the denormalization of tobacco in many countries around the world arguably makes its accomplishment more plausible. There is a growing sense amongst public health practitioners and policy makers that a broad spectrum approach to tobacco, looking at all facets of its production, distribution and consumption, is necessary if its demise is to be achieved. Such holistic perspectives, and the need to understand the complex socio-cultural and political-economic contexts and configurations of tobacco, are indicative of increasingly anthropological approaches, collaborations and engagements in much public health thinking and practice. This session invites anthropologists, particularly those working in the field of public health, to consider the role of tobacco in local, national or global public health discourses, and the ways in which the anthropological imagination encourages public health communities to think 'outside the box' in addressing the issue. This panel gives participants the opportunity to explore and reflect not only on all facets of the tobacco pandemic but also its relationship and relevance to other public health concerns, some deriving from similar patterns of transnational corporate activity, and the dangers of failing in the imaginative quest to make tobacco 'history'.