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From heyday to health hazard – new exhibition traces history of smoking

05 March 2022

A unique new exhibition will be lighting up the hot topic of smoking, from its exclusive use by the well-to-do through its glamorous Hollywood heyday to its downfall as a deadly health hazard.

Fittingly called Up in Smoke, the exhibition at St Andrews Museum from 14 March to 6 June will feature a fascinating combination of art, objects, literature, advertising and movies to highlight smoking as a social practice from the 1800s onwards.

It is a chance to travel back in time to see tobacco’s ‘glorious’ past and its decline.

“Since tobacco was first brought back to Britain from the New World in the 16th century, smoking has been a hot topic,” said Léa Rangé, one of nine postgraduate students from the Museum and Gallery Studies course at the University of St Andrews who are curating the show.

“Its influence and how it’s consumed have evolved significantly. Once limited to the well-to-do, by the late 19th century it was a product of mass consumption, driven by innovations in production and then the demand from soldiers in the First and Second World Wars.”

The perception of smoking has also drastically shifted, from its glorification in the 19th century to its vilification because of health-related issues in modern times.

However, before tobacco’s deadly side-effects were uncovered it was glamorised in Hollywood movies, aided in the emancipation of women, and was a huge source of revenue for media and tobacco companies.

Pipes, snuff boxes, cigarette cases and smoking cabinets are among the objects being exhibited to demonstrate the different uses of tobacco. Most of the exhibits are from ONFife’s Museum Collections and the University of Dundee Museum.

The exhibition is also going provide an opportunity for tips on leading a healthy lifestyle, with the museum’s activity room dedicated to well-being, and there will be lectures outlining the impact of smoking and its negative effects.

There will also be fun educational activities for children such as scavenger hunts and craft workshops.

Up in Smoke: A History of Smoking (14 March-6 June) is a free exhibition and has been curated with supervision by ONFife curators.

To find out more visit www.upinsmokeexhibition.home.blog/ or onfife.com

Also on Facebook @upinsmokexhibition and Instagram: @up.in.smoke.exhibition


For further information please contact: Sheona Small, Press Officer, tel 07809 727 989 or 03451 555 555 ext

445046, or email: sheona.small@onfife.com

Notes to editors:

· Fife Cultural Trust (ONFife) manages and operates theatres, libraries, museums and galleries and cultural partnerships on behalf of Fife Council for people living, working and visiting Fife. Further information about Fife Cultural Trust can be found online at www.onfife.com.