Professor Virginia Berridge, who helped establish History & Policy, is the co-author of a new open-access book, E-Cigarettes and the Comparative Politics of Harm Reduction: History, Evidence and Policy. Given the nature of the evidence on the risks and potential benefits of e-cigarettes in confronting the health risks of smoking tobacco, it is striking that England, Australia and the United States have adopted radically different policies towards this product. In England e-cigarettes have been embraced as a method of reducing harm for regular smokers. Australia has banned e-cigarettes. In the US debate continues as the Food and Drug Administration continues to develop policy. But it is clear that most of the public health community view e-cigarettes as a threat. In England the priority has been the existing smoker while in the US it is children and young people. What can account for these very different responses? The authors of this new study argue that part of the explanation lies in the pre history of tobacco and nicotine as policy issues and the nature of the policy networks around these issues. The divergence cannot be understood without an appreciation of this history.
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