The culture of smoking is something that interests me greatly. It is probably one of the best modern examples of reciprocity spoken of in Mauss' the Gift. A cigarette smoker will inevitably become addicted, creating a need for nicotine. It is often not considered "pan-handling" to ask a stranger for a cigarette when the addict doesn't have one. When someone has cigarettes it is considered good faith to give one to someone who needs one. Thus, a kind of mutual aid is fostered through the exchange of cigarettes. The cigarette smoker knows that if they don't have one someone will inevitably give them one. This creates an obligation to "pay it forward" and give the next person a cigarette when the individual has some. This is reciprocal altruism at its finest.
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