By his own estimate, Proctor spent a decade poring over more than 100,000 tobacco industry documents unearthing details such as a primer on how to reach "young starters" and a 1970 Lorillard memo suggesting that "Negroes" smoke menthols to "mask" their "real/mythical odor." The 57-year-old prof is a walking encyclopedia of tobacco arcana, apt to mention things like "beaver," a rodent anal secretion sometimes added to cigarettes, perhaps to enhance "pack aroma." Or that as much as 90 percent of America's licorice supply is used as a cigarette sweetener. (Honey, chocolate, and sugar are also employed to make cigarette smoke more inhalable—and thus more addictive.) Or that around 4 percent of a cigarette's weight is made up of humectants like propylene glycol—basically antifreeze. "You can put things in cigarettes you can't put in dog food," Proctor says.
Charles Harbutt, Departures and Arrivals continues through Sunday, Jan. 26. Visitors may examine unframed photographs chosen around… More