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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Susan Lewis

Carro-Ripalda, S., Russell, A.J., Lewis, S. & Heckler, S. (2013). The making and changing of smoking persons in public health policy and practice: Ethnography of a world-first illicit tobacco program. Contemporary Drug Problems 40(1): 21-46.

Author(s) from Durham


In this ethnographic investigation of an “upstream” public health program to tackle illicit tobacco, we identify various processes by which particular kinds of people—both smokers and nonsmokers—are constituted in public health policies and practice, and what effects these constructions have for those so constituted and for the overall project. Our suggestion is that notions and dynamics implicit in public health (and, in this case, tobacco control) theory, epistemology, and procedures, create the conditions for negative consequences, notwithstanding any explicit aim to “improve people's lives.” In making our argument, we draw on several conceptual framings, including Foucault's notions of anatomo-and biopolitics and their impact on the constitution of suitable subjectivities and Hacking's ideas about “making up people.” We thus argue that through the rhetorical redeployment of categorizations of smokers and models of smoking personhoods, in the context of tobacco control practice, stakeholders in the illicit tobacco program created and reified the subjects of interventions as particular kinds of smoking persons, which then befitted the “smoking realities” which had been simultaneously produced in these movements of rhetorical practice.