Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-55597f9d44-ms7nj Total loading time: 0.311 Render date: 2022-08-15T05:18:13.652Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

From Tobacco Revolt to Youth Rebellion: A Social History of the Cigarette in Iran

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022

Esfandyar Batmanghelidj*
Iran Tobacco Research Group.


Focusing on the cultural influence of the cigarette, this paper synthesizes a wide range of evidence to argue that the cigarette was a fundamental primer for Iran's encounter with modernity, especially as understood in the context of western influence. Applying the dramaturgical theories of sociologist Erving Goffman, it is argued that the cigarette is an instantiation of the “sign-equipment” of modernization used to refashion the identity and subjectivity of Iranian men and women. This refashioning has occurred in three distinct periods. In the first period (1860–1930), cigarette smoking was a habit adopted by the Persian elite in an attempt to mediate the encounter with European colonial figures. In the second period (1930–70), cigarettes were leveraged by Iranians who wished to be seen as upwardly mobile. In the final and contemporary period (1970–present), cigarettes have become ubiquitous among the adult population, but smoking itself has become the act of youth rebellion as experimentation occurs at increasingly young ages.

Copyright © The International Society for Iranian Studies 2014

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Adams, John D. O'Mara-Adams, Kathleen J. and Hoffmann, Dietrich. “Toxic and Carcinogenic Agents in Undiluted Mainstream Smoke and Sidestream Smoke of Different Types of Cigarettes.” Carcinogenesis 8, no. 5 (1987): 729–31. doi: 10.1093/carcin/8.5.729.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Arjomand, Said Amir. After Khomeini: Iran under His Successors. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.Google Scholar
Batmanghelidj, Esfandyar. “Sanctions, Smuggling, and the Cigarette: The Granting of Iran OFAC Licenses to Big Tobacco.” Iranian Studies 45, no. 3 (2012): 395415. doi: 10.1080/00210862.2011.637768.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Batmanghelidj, Esfandyar. “Smoking in Iran.” Encyclopedia Iranica. Center for Iranian Studies, Columbia University. Scholar
Bayer, Ronald and Stuber, Jennifer. “Tobacco Control, Stigma, and Public Health: Rethinking the Relations.” American Journal of Public Health 96, no. 1 (2006): 4750. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2005.071886.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Cardullo, Bert. “‘The Fruitful Tree Bends’: Abbas Kiarostami.” In Action!, edited by Morris, Gary and Morris, Gary 299322. London: Anthem Press, 2014. Scholar
Cathcart, Nicole E.The New Iranian Film: Central Themes within a Framework of Values in Third Phase Post-Revolutionary Iranian Film.” The Loyola Student Historical Journal (2001–2002).Google Scholar
Chehabi, Houchang E.Staging the Emperor's New Clothes: Dress Codes and Nation-building under Reza Shah.” Iranian Studies 26, no. 3–4 (1993): 209–33. doi: 10.1080/00210869308701800.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dabashi, Hamid. The World of Persian Literary Humanism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dowlatabadi, Mahmud. The Colonel. Translated by Patterdale, Tom. London: Haus Publishing, 2011.Google Scholar
Deylami, Shirin, . “Strangers Among Us: The Critique of Westoxification in Perso-Islamic Political Thought.” PhD diss., University of Minnesota, 2008.Google Scholar
Ertas, N. “Factors Associated with Stages of Cigarette Smoking among Turkish Youth.” The European Journal of Public Health 17, no. 2 (2007): 155161. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckl095.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Farman-Farmaian, Sattareh. Daughter of Persia: A Womans Journey from Her Fathers Harem through the Islamic Revolution. 1st Three Rivers Press ed. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2006.Google Scholar
Fārrukhzād, F. Another Birth: Selected Poems of Forugh Farrokhzad. Translated by Javadi, H., and Sallée, S. Middle Eastern Series. Albany, NY: Albany Press, 1981. Scholar
Floor, Willem. “The Art of Smoking in Iran and Other Uses of Tobacco.” Iranian Studies 35, no. 1/3 (2002): 4785. doi: 10.2307/4311437. doi: 10.1080/00210860208702011CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ford, Henry. The Case Against the Little White Slaver. Amsterdam: Fredonia Books, 2003.Google Scholar
Gilman, Sander L. and Zhou, Xun, eds. Smoke: A Global History of Smoking. London: Reaktion Books, 2004.Google Scholar
Goffman, Erving. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York: Doubleday, 1990.Google Scholar
Goodman, Jordan, ed. Tobacco in History and Culture: An Encyclopedia. Scribner Turning Points Library. Detroit: Thomson Gale, 2005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hambly, Gavin. “Attitudes and Aspirations of the Contemporary Iranian Intellectual.” Journal of the Royal Central Asian Society 51, no. 2 (1964): 127140. doi: 10.1080/03068376408731861.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hamilton, A. E. This Smoking World. New York: Century Company, 1927. Scholar
Heydari, G. “Efficacy of Telephone Quit-Line for Smokers in Iran: 12 Months Follow up Results.” Tanaffus 10, no. 3 (2011): 42–48.Google ScholarPubMed
Hurewitz, J. C. The Middle East and North Africa in World Politics: A Documentary Record. Vol. 2. London: Yale University Press, 1979.Google Scholar
Jacoby, H. How to Know Oriental Carpets and Rugs. George Allen & Unwin, 1952. Scholar
Karim, Persis M, ed. Let Me Tell You Where I've Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora. Iran Heritage Foundation. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2006.Google Scholar
Keddie, Nikki R. Religion and Rebellion in Iran the Tobacco Protest of 1891–1892. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2012. Scholar
Koutlaki, Sofia A.Offers and Expressions of Thanks as Face Enhancing Acts: Tæ’arof in Persian.” Journal of Pragmatics 34, no. 12 (2002): 17331756. doi: 10.1016/S0378-2166(01)00055-8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Margulies, Emily. “Why I Smoke: Sociology of a Deadly Habit.” Human Architecture 2, no. 1 (2003): 111. ProQuest Central; ProQuest Social Science Journals.Google Scholar
Matthee, Rudi. “Transforming Dangerous Nomads into Useful Artisans, Technicians, Agriculturists: Education in the Reza Shah Period.” Iranian Studies 26, no. 3/4 (1993): 313336. doi: 10.2307/4310859. doi: 10.1080/00210869308701804CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Matthee, Rudolph P. 2005. The Pursuit of Pleasure: Drugs and Stimulants in Iranian History, 1500–1900. Woodstock: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Meysamie, Alipasha Ghaletaki, Reza Haghazali, Mehrdad Asgari, Fereshteh Rashidi, Armin Khalilzadeh, Omid Esteghamati, Alireza and Abbasi, Mehrshad. “Pattern of Tobacco Use among the Iranian Adult Population: Results of the National Survey of Risk Factors of Non-Communicable Diseases (SuRFNCD-2007).” Tobacco Control 19, no. 2 (2010): 125128. doi: 10.1136/tc.2009.030759.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mosavi-Jarrahi, A. Mohagheghi, M. Yazdizadeh, B. Kolahi, A. A. Tahmasebi, S. and Sharifi, S.Analysis of Smoking Behaviour among Iranian Population: A Cohort and Period Analysis.” Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention : APJCP 5, no. 1 (2004): 6669.Google ScholarPubMed
Mottahedeh, Roy P. The Mantle of the Prophet: Religion and Politics in Iran. Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2009.Google Scholar
Naficy, Hamid. A Social History of Iranian Cinema. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011.Google Scholar
Nakhaee, Nouzar Divsalar, Kouros and Jadidi, Nadjme. “Religious Involvement and Cigarette Smoking among Iranian University Students.” International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine 39, no. 2 (2009): 189198. doi: 10.2190/PM.39.2.gCrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Nasrabadi, Nikbakht Alireza, Parsayekta, Zohreh and Emami, Azita. “Smoking as a Symbol of Friendship: Qualitative Study of Smoking Behavior and Initiation of a Group of Male Nurse Students in Iran.” Nursing & Health Sciences 6, no. 3 (2004): 209215. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-2018.2004.00194.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pesaran, Evaleila. “Towards an Anti-Western Stance: The Economic Discourse of Iran's 1979 Revolution.” Iranian Studies 41, no. 5 (2008): 693718. doi: 10.1080/00210860802518343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rāhnamā, ʻAlī. An Islamic Utopian: A Political Biography of Ali Shariati. London: I. B. Tauris, 2000.Google Scholar
Rao, Vyjayanthi. “Embracing Urbanism: The CIT00y as Archive.” New Literary History 40, no. 2 (2009): 371383. doi: 10.1353/nlh.0.0085Google Scholar
Ringer, Monica M. Education, Religion and the Discourse of Cultural Reform in Qajar Iran. Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Publishers, 2001.Google Scholar
Roohafza, Hamidreza Sadeghi, Masoumeh Sarraf-Zadegan, Nizal Baghaei, Abdolmehdi Kelishadi, Roya Mahvash, Masoud Sajjadi, Firoozeh Toghianifar, Nafiseh and Talaei, Mohammad. “Relation between Stress and Other Life Style Factors.” Stress and Health 23, no. 1 (2007): 2329. doi: 10.1002/smi.1113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Roohafza, Hamidreza Sadeghi, Masoumeh Shahnam, Maryam Shoukouh, Pedram Teimori, Soheila Amirpour, Afrshin and Sarrafzadegan, Nizal. “Social Norms of Cigarette and Hookah Smokers in Iranian Universities.” ARYA Atherosclerosis 9, no. 1 (2013): 4550.Google ScholarPubMed
Roohafza, Hamidreza Shahnam, Maryam Zolfaghari, Behzad Tavassoli, Aliakbar Sadeghi, Masoumeh Toloei, Hamidreza Sadri, Gholamhosein and Sarrafzadegan, Nizal. “Stress Level and Smoking Status in Central Iran: Isfahan Healthy Heart Program.” ARYA Atherosclerosis 6, no. 4 (2011): 144148.Google ScholarPubMed
Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood. New York: Pantheon, 2003.Google Scholar
Schuman, L. M.Patterns of Smoking Behavior.” NIDA Research Monograph no. 17 (1977): 3666.Google Scholar
Sheibani, Khatereh. “Kiarostami and the Aesthetics of Modern Persian Poetry.” Iranian Studies 39, no. 4 (2006): 509537. doi: 10.1080/00210860601005088.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Skrine, Clarmont. “New Trends in Iran.” Journal of The Royal Central Asian Society 42, no. 2 (1955): 100115. doi: 10.1080/03068375508731537.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stromberg, Peter Nichter, Mark and Nichter, Mimi. “Taking Play Seriously: Low-Level Smoking Among College Students.” Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 31, no. 1 (2007): 124. doi: 10.1007/s11013-006-9042-y.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Sweeting, Helen N. Bhaskar, Abita and Hunt, Kate. “Positive Associations between Consumerism and Tobacco and Alcohol Use in Early Adolescence: Cross-Sectional Study.” BMJ Open 2, no. 5 (2012). doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ziaaddini, H. “The Prevalence and Motivation of Cigarette Smoking among Kerman High School Students.” Iranian Journal of Psychiatry 2, no. 1 (2007): 41–45.Google Scholar
Zubizarreta, John. “The Woman Who Sings No, No, No: Love, Freedom, and Rebellion in the Poetry of Forugh Farrokhzad.” World Literature Today 66, no. 3 (1992): 421426. doi: 10.2307/40148358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

From Tobacco Revolt to Youth Rebellion: A Social History of the Cigarette in Iran
Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

From Tobacco Revolt to Youth Rebellion: A Social History of the Cigarette in Iran
Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

From Tobacco Revolt to Youth Rebellion: A Social History of the Cigarette in Iran
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *