Funerals, big matches and jolly trips: 'contextual spaces' of smoking risk for Sri Lankan adolescents

Gakrett Mehl, Tamsyn Seimon, Peter Winch

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


This ethnographic study of smoking among males in two urban Sri Lankan communities was carried out to inform existing tobacco control efforts. Specific settings were found to foster smoking among young people. In 'jolly' settings (funerals, weddings, jolly trips and gantze parties), cigarette smoking was facilitated by participants; in 'functional' settings (easing problems, warding off cold, easing loneliness, showing colors), cigarettes played a more utilitarian role; in public settings (public, home), smoking was discouraged altogether. Youth are primarily 'jolly' and 'functional' smokers. As such, they typically smoke in the unobtrusive, private contexts which readily facilitate smoking and are not bound by public restrictions on smoking. These findings suggest that prevailing international tobacco control guidelines for low income countries may be missing what appear - from this study - to be the most common points of youth access to tobacco products in Sri Lanka: namely, social occasions at which cigarettes and beedis are provided free or shared.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-357
Number of pages21
JournalAnthropology and Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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