International Journal of Drug Policy 23 (2012) 242–247
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International Journal of Drug Policy
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/drugpo
Nicotine control: E-cigarettes, smoking and addiction
Kirsten Bell a,∗ , Helen Keane b
Department of Anthropology, 6303 NW Marine Drive, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z3, Canada
School of Sociology, Building 22, Hayden Allen Building, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia
a r t i c l e
i n f o
Received 12 October 2011
Received in revised form 5 January 2012
Accepted 18 January 2012
a b s t r a c t
Background: Over the past year or so, electronic cigarettes, more commonly known as ‘e-cigarettes’, have
achieved widespread visibility and growing popularity. These products, which deliver nicotine via an
inhaled mist, have caused no small amount of controversy in public health circles, and their rise has been
accompanied by energetic debate about their potential harms and beneﬁts.
Methods: Interspersed with an analysis of current media coverage on e-cigarettes and the response of
mainstream tobacco control and public health to these devices, this article examines the emergence of
nicotine as both as an ‘addiction’ and a treatment for addiction.
Results: We argue that by delivering nicotine in way that resembles the visual spectacle and bodily pleasures of smoking, but without the harms of combustible tobacco, e-cigarettes highlight the complex
status of nicotine as both a poison and remedy in contemporary public health and tobacco control.
Conclusion: In consequence, e-cigarettes jeopardize the carefully drawn distinctions between ‘good’ and
‘bad’ forms of nicotine.
© 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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