Unfiltered: Conflicts over Tobacco Policy and Public Health

By Eric A. Feldman; Ronald Bayer | Go to book overview

Conclusion:
Lessons from the Comparative
Study of Tobacco Control
The case studies in this volume,1 as well as the cross-national chapters, underscore the rich differences among liberal democracies in their understandings of public health, their conceptions of freedom of expression, and their tolerance of risk-taking behaviors that may also impose harms on others. Despite the universal recognition of the toxicity of cigarette smoking, and a shared tool box of possible policy interventions, these case studies reveal the emergence by the end of the twentieth century of a complex array of tobacco-control strategies in eight industrialized democracies.As we considered the underlying political, legal, economic, and sociocultural features of the nations brought together in this project, and sought to identify and understand both similarities and differences in their tobaccocontrol regimes, we identified four particularly important themes. They did not so much inform the national case studies as emerge from them. Hence they serve both as conclusions to this comparative study and as a starting point that could orient others who may press the comparison in new and revealing directions.The four themes are:
Science and evidence have played a critical but not determinative role in influencing anti-tobacco advocacy and policy. In the face of uncertainties and ambiguities, ideological and political factors have been central.
The identification of vulnerable third parties held to be in need of protection has been a crucial justification for anti-tobacco policy and advocacy.

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