Gregory Wood’s new book opens by quoting writer activist Barbara Ehrenreich about her stint as a waitress for her 2001 book Nickel and Dimed. “Almost everyone smokes,” she remarked about her restaurant coworkers (1). To Wood, her observation captured a pervasive but neglected element of twentieth-century working-class life. Cigarette smoking evolved as a central on-the-job worker experience during the 1900s, and it figured broadly into the process of work, labor-management relations, workspace use, occupational health, worker solidarity (or lack thereof), and collective bargaining, intersecting with changing public attitudes toward tobacco use throughout the twentieth century. Allan Brandt, Robert Proctor, Richard Kluger, and others have written histories of cigarette smoking, but Wood for the first time examines its workplace parameters.

Clearing the Air addresses that part of labor history involving the worker-management struggle to control workplaces. The book explores smoking’s role...

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