Marta Poncelas Ramon
Poncelas 2004
World No Tobacco Day 

World No Tobacco Day is a worldwide event held each year to draw attention to the adverse health effects of the tobacco epidemic.  Tobacco currently causes 4.9 million deaths annually, expected to rise to 10 million by 2030. 

The theme for World No Tobacco Day in 2003 is 'Film and Fashion'. The tobacco industry has been, and continues to be, highly profitable.  In recent years, the industry has enjoyed record growth in many parts of the developing world.  One of the most effective ways this has been achieved is through the industry's powerful use of the mass media to promote and sell its deadly product.

Young people are particular vulnerable to the images created by an industry that knows over 90% of smokers start smoking before the age of 18.  The direct association of smoking with images of beauty, glamour, youth, success and desirability taps into people's aspirations to achieve these appealing characteristics.  

This exhibit explores how fashion is integral to our self-image, and our need to conform and belong. Images of fashion play on these human needs.

For decades, the tobacco industry has successfully used fashion imagery to make the cigarette a familiar and desirable accessory.  The images created and used play on our desire for social acceptance and status. 

The reality, however, is rather more stark.  Although a cigarette may seem comforting in certain social situations, the health consequences contrast sharply with the images put forth.  Social smoking among young people can often lead to addiction. Addiction leads to long-term tobacco use. The result is the dissipation of youth and beauty.  We are left with a diseased body, no longer functioning with health and vigour, perhaps parts needing to be cut away to reduce the damage. Death brings the ultimate social isolation.
Marta Poncelas is a freelance photographer based in London and Spain. She graduated with a degree in Photography and Digital Arts from Westminster University in 2000.  Alongside extensive experience in portrait, studio and digital photography, she maintains a passion for social documentary.  To see more of Marta's work, please visit her website at
This exhibit was made possible by the generous contributions of Marta Poncelas.  This project was co-funded by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’s Contemporary Arts Programme, and Centre on Global Change and Health.  
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