Slippery Slopes and Trojan Horses: The Construction of E-Cigarettes as Risky Objects in Public Health Debate
Focusing on debates around the risk/benefits of e-cigarettes within the field of public health, this chapter argues that the for/against sides in these debates construct e-cigarettes as different objects, with implicit assumptions about what these objects ‘are’, how people will respond to them, and their comparability to tobacco cigarettes. Drawing on practice theory approaches, this chapter questions such assumptions, pointing out that objects are ‘made’ through practices and thus cannot be divided from their contexts, with different contexts enacting differing objects. The ‘riskiness’ of objects is therefore relational rather than an inherent quality in technologies themselves. Such debates tell us more about the assumptions embedded within public health itself and are themselves examples of how new technologies create new relations and material effects.
Many thanks to Simon Cohn, Emma Garnett and Conor Farrington for their comments in the development of this chapter.
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