This article reflects on the irony of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control taking place in north India during the worst smog in Delhi's history. It is presented as both a material reminder that tobacco is not the only cause of respiratory disease and as a symbol of the permeation of the conference by tobacco industry interests. A further ironic connection is the proximity of the conference venue to Bisrakh, the birthplace of the demon king Ravana, whose statue was despoiled in the months preceding the Diwali festival which celebrates his vanquishing by Ram. Older Bisrakh residents are reported as mourning rather than celebrating Ravana's death during the festival, although younger people are turning their backs on such practices. A new statue of Ravana had recently been vandalized. With the smog which occurred being attributed partly to fireworks from Diwali, the set of anthropological knots unravel to reveal a continuous thread: the message that it is necessary to respect your demons, whether they be tobacco or part of the Hindu pantheon.
Russell, A. (2017). Smog in a time of tobacco control. Anthropology Today, 33(6), 27-29. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8322.12395