Professor’s new book takes political, cultural look at tobacco policies
Published: Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 02:02
West Virginia University political science Professor Donley Studlar has published a new book that evaluates tobacco policies around the world.
"Global Tobacco Control: Power, Policy, Governance and Transfer," explores the history of the tobacco industry and major concerns in the market.
The book focuses on the gap between policy problems in the industry and government response across the globe, in addition to the vast changes in the system over the past 60 years, Studlar said.
"Smoking is a very culturally and economically embedded practice in many countries. One of the most remarkable things is how much change there has been," he said. "While policies still vary in Western, industrialized countries, there's been a convergence of policies as information has diffused concerning the dangers of cigarette smoking, as well as how different countries have dealt with them."
Studlar said the modern view on smoking in the United States has contributed to economic shifts in the marketplace.
"In the 1950s, cigarette smoking was just normal and no one really objected to the situation. Today, smoking is denormalized, and there are restrictions on tobacco," he said. "What we're trying to do in this book is explore that shift – how it came about and the differences across countries."
"Smoking is usually thought of as a public health issue, but it's also a very political issue, and the fact that it is perceived differently in different countries indicates that."
Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in the world, but many countries do not possess any laws regulating smoking, he said.
"There's a lot of research about smoking and health-related issues in public health, but not so much in political science," he said. "You have to delve deeply into the public health literature, where a lot of this information is contained, and understand something about the science and the social dynamics of the issue as well as the politics in order to get a grasp of it. The more countries you try to do this for, the more complicated it becomes."
Studlar co-authored the book with WVU political science alumnus Hadii M. Mamudu, an assistant professor of public health at East Tennessee State University and Paul Cairney, senior lecturer and head of the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom.
"Mamudu has had the benefit of working in the public health field as well as having a Ph.D. in political science, and that gives him a better grasp on the issue from that perspective. He focuses more on the developing countries and the framework convention," Studlar said.
"Kearney comes at it from more of a public administration background with familiarity with the UK and policy theory. I have sort of a broader perspective of comparative politics for the industrialized world, so it really took all three of us to combine our perspectives for this book to be a success."
Studlar is an Eberly Family Distinguished Professor of Political Science at WVU and has published four books and more than 125 articles on comparative politics in scholarly journals.
His previous book published on tobacco regulation, "Tobacco Control: Comparative Politics in the United States and Canada" was released almost a decade ago.
"I started out looking at two countries that have similarities and some differences, the same language and a shared border, but even that took an entire book to explore," Studlar said. "In this book, it's a much broader global view. I've actually pursued the issue of tobacco control for about 15 years in terms of my academic research."