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Sociol Health Illn. 2013 Jun;35(5):778-92. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9566.2012.01529.x. Epub 2013 Apr 21.

Tobacco and the invention of quitting: a history of gender, excess and will-power.

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  • 1School of Nursing, University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC, Canada.


Since the rise of concern about the relationship between smoking and health in the 1950s and 1960s, the tobacco industry has emphasised notions of individual choice to negate the arguments of the public health sector and legitimatise the industry's presence in the marketplace. Central to this notion of individual choice has been the idea that the control of tobacco consumption (including quitting) is a function of will-power and that smokers can quit if they really want to. This article examines the way will-power developed as the centrepiece of debates about smoking consumption and cessation in the 1950s and 1960s.

© 2013 The Authors. Sociology of Health & Illness © 2013 Foundation for the Sociology of Health & Illness/John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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