Can Tobacco Control Survive the Rise of Populism?

Frank Davis

Tobacco Control has never been a popular – or populist – project. There have never been mass marches or demonstrations in favour of it. In the months preceding the 2007 UK smoking, my own personal polling of Devon pub-goers revealed very little support: I only encountered one person who was unequivocally in favour of it. The rest were more or less resigned to a ban that they could do little or nothing about. There was, in short, very little support for the impending ban. But if there wasn’t very much support, there wasn’t much resistance either.

Tobacco Control is instead an elitist project. It’s the project of senior doctors in the medical profession, and also senior figures in government and industry. It requires powerful top-down political control for it to be pushed through, against the grain of popular opinion. And it also needs a compliant mass media which will not…

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