Encyclopedia Article


A cigarette, often spelled cigaret in Tony Hillerman's mystery novels, is a small amount of finely cut dried tobacco rolled in small squares of thin paper into a torpedo-shaped tube for smoking.

Quite often, characters in Hillerman's novels smoke together or offer cigarettes to one another. The exchange and shared experience of smoking cigarettes, which is a common cultural phenomenon, is in some ways evocative of indigenous ceremonial practices of exchanging pipes, breath, and words. Not to over-simplify the effects of smoking cigarettes, especially those produced by large companies, Hillerman warns his readers through one of his main protagonists, Joe Leaphorn, that smoking is "never good. It hurts the lungs. But sometimes it is necessary, and therefore one does it" (Dance Hall of the Dead 13).

Photo Credit: 

"Tony Hillerman smokes a cigarette while working as a reporter for the Santa Fe New Mexican.," photograph. Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico.

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