As I may have mentioned, the book I’m currently writing is set in New York City in the 1930s. This was a time when many people smoked and the health risks were not generally known. Advertisements at the time linked smoking with being liberated (especially for women), glamorous and sophisticated. I remember seeing a series of 1930s Camel ads in science fiction magazines that featured the US Olympic team—mostly swimmers and divers—extolling the health and fitness benefits of smoking. In the Hollywood films of the period it’s easier to count the actors who aren’t smoking than the ones who are.
An accurate portrait of the period would have to have at least some of my characters smoking.
I hate smoking. I hate the smell of it. I hate getting into a car that reeks of it or eating at a restaurant with smokers. I hate what it does to people’s health. I hate the industry built around it that has led to the untimely and painful death of millions of people world-wide, including two of my grandparents.
I will not promote smoking.
But I want to write a book that evokes the period as accurately and evocatively as I can. The haze of cigarette smoke was a large part of NYC right up until 2003 when the smoking bans—hallelujah!—came in.
What to do?