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An ambitious 10 year long photographic documentation on the global tobacco industry is now becoming a book.
An ambitious 10 year long photographic documentation on the global tobacco industry is now becoming a book.
114 backers pledged €15,280 to help bring this project to life.
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Bitter Leaves by Rocco Rorandelli

€15,280

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Over the last 10 years, I have travelled extensively to India, China, Indonesia, USA, Germany, Bulgaria, Nigeria, Slovenia and Italy in order to document the impact that the tobacco industry has on human health, the economy as well as the environment. My long-term project on the global tobacco industry is now culminating in a book, with preface and captions curated by Judith Mackay.

Cigarettes are considered the most marketed consumer product in history. Their success derives from their apparent simplicity: tobacco leaves, paper and filter. Their design, however, hides not only the chemical toxicity of smoke, but also the many socio-economic and environmental negative aspects linked to their production, marketing and utilization. 

Left: Akkol, India. Dipali Lohar during tobacco harvesting in a mixed tobacco and sorgum field; right: Jakarta, Indonesia. A young smoker.
Left: Akkol, India. Dipali Lohar during tobacco harvesting in a mixed tobacco and sorgum field; right: Jakarta, Indonesia. A young smoker.

A smokescreen, like an invisible curtain, cloaks it all. Through my camera, I have attempted to look beyond it and have witnessed how tobacco promotes the stripping of farmlands, threatens workers with dangerous chemicals, exploits child labor and undocumented workers, utilizes aggressive marketing campaigns aimed at identifying new customers (mostly underage), and conducts heavy lobbying to promote its expansion to novel markets and social strata. Moreover, tobacco severely affects the environment: every year, 9 million acres are subjected to deforestation for tobacco cultivations - accounting for 12% of the world’s cut trees and for nearly 5% of greenhouse gas emissions – while cigarette butts are today considered the world’s greatest source of ocean pollution: of the 5.6 trillion cigarettes produced annually, about two-thirds end up disposed in the environment, and make their way to the world's oceans.

Left: Milan, Italy. Pacifici Serenella, 71, in the surgery ward of the European Institute of Oncology, waiting to be operated for a lung cancer; right: Surgeon Giulia Veronesi dissecting a lung cancer.
Left: Milan, Italy. Pacifici Serenella, 71, in the surgery ward of the European Institute of Oncology, waiting to be operated for a lung cancer; right: Surgeon Giulia Veronesi dissecting a lung cancer.

In the last seven years, chapters of the project have been published in several international media outlets, including Newsweek, Le Monde Magazine, CNN, Courrier International, GEO, Internazionale, L’Espresso, Io Donna. I was also awarded a grant by the Fund for Investigative Journalism for uncovering undocumented Latino children working in USA tobacco estates.

Left: Civitavecchia, Italy. Search operation on cars arriving from Tunisia by ferry; right: Durham, N.C., USA. the old Lucky Strike factory, now converted in a shopping mall.
Left: Civitavecchia, Italy. Search operation on cars arriving from Tunisia by ferry; right: Durham, N.C., USA. the old Lucky Strike factory, now converted in a shopping mall.

“He aims to redefine the imagery of the cigarette, pushing it away from dusty cowboys and the vast plantations of Virginia to the realities of modern industrial globalization"

                                                                   The New York Times


The book

The book is the ultimate compendium of years of work, and the first chance to see the project in its entirety. The volume will be published by London-based GOST Books, and is edited and designed by Stuart Smith who is crafting an insightful and contemporary visual tool which combines the iconographic component with the journalistic content of a truly in-depth investigation.

Preface, captions and infographics have been curated by senior scientific consultant Judith Mackay, defined by the tobacco industry as “one of the most dangerous people in the world”.

I believe that this book is of considerable interest to photographers (with a careful narrative structure that follows the most hidden processes of the industry) as well as tobacco-control advocates (being the first book portraying the industry in its convoluted totality), and of course to the insightful reader interested in understanding the tentacular construction of a truly capitalistic venture.

The book will ultimately raise awareness on the complexity of the impacts and the multifaceted paths of the global tobacco industry, providing a way to understand some corporative mechanisms and the power they have to influence the perception of reality.

Thank you for supporting this pre-sale and crowdfunding campaign. With your help we can make this book happen!

Technical Sheet

220 x 165 mm Portrait format

500 copies 

208 pages divided as follow: 

144 pages on GardaPat Kiara paper

64 pages on uncoated paper

Hardback clothbound

9 infographics

English language

Reward prints

Please find here the selection of images available for the reward prints.

Tearsheets (selection)

Left: Nipani, India, A tobacco taster smokes up to 100 bidis/day in order to grade the different batches of tobacco; right: Jakarta, Indonesia. The Sampoerna Strategic Square, built by Putera Sampoerna, owner of the largest tobacco company of Indonesia.
Left: Nipani, India, A tobacco taster smokes up to 100 bidis/day in order to grade the different batches of tobacco; right: Jakarta, Indonesia. The Sampoerna Strategic Square, built by Putera Sampoerna, owner of the largest tobacco company of Indonesia.

Biography

I started working as a documentary photographer after my doctoral studies in Natural Sciences, which helped me develop a profound interest in global social and environmental issues. My images and videos are utilized in awareness campaigns of intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations (WHO, Oxfam, Save the Children, MSF, etc), and are regularly published by the main international magazines, such as Le Monde Magazine, GEO, Der Spiegel, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Paris Match, Guardian Review, D di Repubblica, L'Espresso, Internazionale, Io Donna, and many other. My essays have been exhibited across Europe and North America. I am one of the founding members of the collective TerraProject. I live in Rome, Italy.

Risks and challenges

If we raise the funds to publish the book, we do not foresee major challenges. Images have been edited, preface and captions have been fact-checked, infographics have been designed.

Founded in 2013, GOST Books is an independent visual arts and photography publisher based in London. The Director and co-founder of GOST Books is Stuart Smith, a designer with over 30 years experience and renowned for his specialisation in typography and award-winning photo books. GOST publishes a diverse subject matter and design, making an uncategorisable output a trademark of GOST.

We thank you for your support of this project and we look to fulfil our commitment on producing a book for all our supporters.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge €35 or more About $39

    Book

    One signed copy of the book.
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    Two books

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    Pledge €70 or more About $78

    Book and 6x8 inches print

    One signed book copy + signed 6x8 inches print on Fine Art Hahnemhule. Select from images #1 to #9. Edition of 20. Available images in the "Reward prints" section.
    P&p extra, added at checkout. Shipping costs refunded if collected in person in London, Rome and Florence.
    Special Kickstarter edition.

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    Pledge €130 or more About $144

    Book, 6x8 inches print and slipcase

    Handmade, clothbound slipcase with a signed copy of the book and a limited edition 6x8 inches print (image #8 in the "Reward prints" section), signed and numbered on verso. Edition of 30. Only 25 available through Kickstarter.
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    Pledge €165 or more About $182

    Five books

    Five signed copies of the book.
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    Pledge €250 or more About $276

    40x40 cm fine-art print

    One signed copy of the book + one signed 40x40 cm print on Fine Art Hahnemhule, signed and numbered on verso. Choose from images #1 to #9. Edition of 5.
    Available images in the "Reward prints" section.
    Special Kickstarter edition.
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    Pledge €320 or more About $353

    Ten books

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    Pledge €500 or more About $551

    Sponsorship

    Two signed copies of the book and logo/name in the book’s colophon.
    Includes shipping worldwide.

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    Pledge €600 or more About $661

    Travelling exhibition

    One signed copy of the book + 30 prints 40x40 cm for a travelling exhibition, printed on poster paper, mounting or framing extra.
    Ideal for institutions interested in hosting an exhibition on the subject of tobacco control. The selection of the images can be decided along with the organisers. Captions and introductory text provided. If requested, the exhibition can be delivered before World No Tobacco Day 2019.
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    20 signed books

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    Pledge €900 or more About $992

    Mentorship

    One signed copy of the book (worldwide shipping included) + 6 months online mentorship, with bimonthly 2 hours Skype meetings,
    The mentorship will enable students to share with me their works and to be followed during the production of new photo essays, with my guidance, from building a storyboard to image selection and editing.

    Only 4 mentorships available.

    Exact timeframe to be agreed upon request.

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    Sponsorship for organizations

    Two signed copies of the book and logo of your organization in the book’s colophon.

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Funding period

- (30 days)