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Discourses of Smoking, Health, and the Just Society: Yesterday, Today, and the Return of the Same?

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date2001
JournalSocial History of Medicine
Journal number2
Volume14
Number of pages23
Pages313-335
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This paper locates the political impact of Bernie Ecclestone's controversial donation to the Labour Party, just before its election to government in 1997, in a recurrent concern among British socialists about the relationship between smoking, health, and the just society. It does so by turning to an earlier episode in the history of British socialism, specifically to Horace Joules' political agitation from 1951 onward, within the Socialist Medical Association, advisory committees to the Ministry of Health, and the British popular and medical press, for government action against smoking. The argument is that the association of concerns over smoking, health and the making of a just society is rooted in aspirations to Christian community that were and continue to be fundamentally important in the development of British socialism. Smoking has been viewed and continues to be viewed as incompatible with this understanding of community because it is the ultimate consumer good, refractory to any discourse of utility and responsibility.