Although drinking, smoking and obesity have attracted social and moral condemnation to varying degrees for more than two hundred years, over the past few decades they have come under intense attack from the field of public health as an ‘unholy trinity’ of lifestyle behaviours with apparently devastating medical, social and economic consequences. Indeed, we appear to be in the midst of an important historical moment in which policies and practices that would have been unthinkable a decade ago (e.g., outdoor smoking bans, incarcerating pregnant women for drinking alcohol, and prohibiting restaurants from serving food to fat people), have become acceptable responses to the ‘risks’ that alcohol, tobacco and obesity are perceived to pose.
Hailing from Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and the USA, and drawing on examples from all four countries, contributors interrogate the ways in which alcohol, tobacco and fat have come to be constructed as ‘problems’ requiring intervention and expose the social, cultural and political roots of the current public health obsession with lifestyle.
No prior collection has set out to provide an in-depth examination of alcohol, tobacco and obesity through the comparative approach taken in this volume. This book therefore represents an invaluable and timely contribution to critical studies of public health, health inequities, health policy, and the sociology of risk more broadly.
Part I; The cultural politics of public health scholarship and policy: 1. Deconstructing behavioural classifications: Tobacco control, ‘professional vision’ and the tobacco user as a site of governmental intervention, Michael Mair; 3. Neoliberalism, public health and the moral perils of fatness, Kathleen LeBesco; 3. Addiction and personal responsibility as solutions to the contradictions of neoliberal consumerism, Robin Room; 4. Between alarmists and sceptics: on the cultural politics of obesity scholarship and public policy, Michael Gard; 5. Legislating abjection? Secondhand smoke, tobacco control policy and the public’s health, Kirsten Bell: Part II; Rationality and the ambivalent place of pleasure: 6. Permissible pleasures and alcohol consumption, Robin Bunton; 7. Intoxication, harm and pleasure: an analysis of the Australian National Alcohol Strategy, Helen Keane; 8. Smoking causes creative responses: on state anti-smoking policy and resilient habits, Simone Dennis; 9. The sociality of smoking in the face of anti-smoking policies by Lucy McCullough; 10. In praise of hunger: Public health and the problem of excess, John Coveney; Part III; Gendered bodies, gendered policies; 11. From the womb to the tomb: Obesity and maternal responsibility, Darlene McNaughton; 12. Responsibility for the family’s health: How nutritional discourses construct the role of mothers by Svetlana Ristovski-Slijepcevic; 13. Pretty girls don’t smoke: Gender and appearance imperatives in tobacco prevention, Rebecca J. Haines-Saah; 14. Aboriginal mothering, FASD prevention and the contestations of neoliberal citizenship, Amy Salmon