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The monument to smokers who quit. The monument to smokers who quit.

Art installation made of 10,000 cigarette lighters pays tribute to those who quit

Tobacco company Philip Morris was a backer of the Mexico City art project

An art installation made of more than 10,000 cigarette lighters has been set up in Mexico City to pay tribute to people who have quit smoking and to encourage others to do the same.

Installed outside the Soumaya Museum in the capital’s Polanco district, the piece is the creation of Alfredo Blásquez, an artist and photographer who collaborated with tobacco company Phillip Morris México on the project.

On the installation’s base, beneath the colorful wall of lighters, appears the phrase #EligeElCambio, or Choose the Change, a slogan that is part of a Phillip Morris marketing campaign to encourage more people to give up cigarettes and instead use heated tobacco products, which are supposedly less harmful to human health.

Blásquez said the goal of Phillip Morris, which markets an e-cigarette product called IQOS, is to “achieve a future without smoke and reduce the number of smokers of traditional cigarettes.”

“This is the inspiration of the work,” he said, adding that people who give up smoking in its more traditional sense will no longer use cigarette lighters and plastic waste will decline as a result.

Over 10,000 lighters were used to create art installation.
Over 10,000 lighters were used to create art installation.

“The artwork celebrates the decision of those people who chose the change and gave up cigarettes. … The installation urges us to rethink our consumption habits and [think about] caring for nature,” said Blásquez, who frequently works on projects that aim to raise awareness about environmental issues, especially the harm caused by plastic waste.

A shift in Mexico toward the use of e-cigarettes and vaporizers is believed to be one factor behind a slump in cigarette sales of almost 25% last year.

However, the coronavirus pandemic was likely the main reason why fewer cigarettes were sold in 2020. Some people apparently stopped smoking altogether or cut back due to concerns about how they, as smokers, would be affected if they contracted the virus.

Others may have reduced their tobacco intake because they had less disposable income last year as a result of the economic restrictions and/or the virus-induced downturn.

Source: El Universal (sp) 

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