IAS Fellows' Seminar - Public Health and Pleasure - Adversaries or Allies
Used as intended, tobacco will harm its users – so much so that two thirds of long-term users will die prematurely from a disease caused directly by smoking. E-cigarettes (or vapes) could potentially reduce the catastrophic impact smoking has on global well-being. Yet, although described as a ‘disruptive technology’ that could catalyse reductions in smoking prevalence’, vapes’ efficacy as a cessation tool remains ambiguous and they bring with them other potential risks. Attributes that make vaping attractive – the performative clouds, vast array of hedonistic flavours, and pleasurable nicotine ‘buzz’ – may impede transition from vaping to becoming vape free. These same attributes could appeal to young people, encourage them to take up vaping, and may eventually led to nicotine dependence is difficult to relinquish. This paper explores whether public health researchers should try to make vaping less attractive, even if doing so reduces the pleasure users experience. This approach may reduce youth vaping uptake and discourage smokers from becoming long-term vapers, but it may also mean smokers do not find vaping attractive enough to switch from smoking to vaping. The paper explores whether we should try to reduce addiction, even if the addictive substance is accessed in a safer form, and probes whose well-being we should privilege when making such decisions.
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