Liberal States, Public Health, and
the Tobacco Question
In the 1950s, scientists began to demonstrate that smoking caused cancer, heart disease, and other health problems and was responsible for millions of premature deaths. Although these findings have become orthodoxy, their policy implications have been relentlessly challenged. Powerful corporate entities have fought aggressively against regulations that would limit the tobacco industry’s freedom to market its products. Governments have protected domestic tobacco cultivation and production because of their fiscal and political importance. The industry’s key constituency, hundreds of millions of cigarette smokers for whom smoking was a pleasure, a habit, an addiction, and a health hazard, has defended the right to smoke. Nevertheless, by the close of the twentieth century, anti-tobacco advocates, public health officials, physicians’ groups, and international organizations, separately and in concert, had succeeded in putting tobacco control on the policy agenda of every industrialized democracy. In place of political timidity there emerged a commitment to policies that affect the conduct of the tobacco industry and individual tobacco consumption, and that have major consequences for society, politics, and public health.
The essays in this volume provide a context for understanding tobacco policy in the United States and other industrialized nations. Unfiltered by preconceived assumptions, ideology, or preordained conclusions, we explore the roots and implications of the new international enthusiasm for increasingly restrictive tobacco regulation. Eight national case studies—the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, France, Germany, and Denmark—plus three cross-national essays, provide rich descriptions