Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Clearing the Air: E-Cigarettes as a Strategy of Tobacco Harm Reduction

Thomas, Rebecca (2019) Clearing the Air: E-Cigarettes as a Strategy of Tobacco Harm Reduction. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Download (375kB) | Preview


The recent and rapid expansion of e-cigarettes in the tobacco marketplace has engendered significant controversies in the public health community and beyond, with worries about the effect on vulnerable populations, especially adolescents, and the as-yet-unknown, long-term health risks. In this paper, I will analyze the ethical arguments supporting and opposing the strategy of e-cigarette availability (ECA) as part of tobacco harm reduction (THR). I will consider ECA as a THR strategy to include (1) permitting the manufacture, sale, and use of e-cigarettes, and (2) informing the public of the relative risks of e-cigarettes and combustible cigarettes. I will evaluate the strategy of ECA from a public health perspective, which includes determining whether ECA adequately advances (1) a prevention orientation, including addressing the root causes of disease, rather than treating symptoms of disease after it has occurred; (2) a population perspective, by focusing on overall community well-being, rather than the well-being of individuals alone; and (3) a commitment to social justice, by redressing systematic disadvantage for marginalized groups, rather than assuming all groups within a population are on equal footing (Gostin & Wiley 2016, p. 12-18).

I will argue that supporting ECA as a THR strategy is justified because it (1) is consistent with the primary goals of public health, (2) promotes autonomy, (3) advances social justice, and (4) promotes more overall benefit than harm, in comparison to opposing use of ECA as a THR strategy. Furthermore, I will argue that employing ECA as a THR strategy is supported by utilitarian analysis. Rather than merely contending that there is “no safe tobacco product,” it is better for the field of public health to clear the air and educate the public on the relative risks of combustible and e-cigarettes, thereby enabling people to make more informed choices.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Thomas, Rebeccarlt52@pitt.edurlt52
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairParker,
Committee MemberWicclair,
Committee MemberShiffman,
Date: 25 September 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 22 July 2019
Approval Date: 25 September 2019
Submission Date: 18 July 2019
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 52
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Bioethics
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Tobacco harm reduction
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2019 14:27
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2019 14:27


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item