Stigma and tobacco harm reduction: what we can learn from other health behaviors

Time: 1:25 pm - 1:40 pm

Date: May 25

Stigmatizing smoking has been at the heart of tobacco control efforts for decades, which may drive more people to quit but at the same time potentially create new difficulties for smokers, including self-isolation, creation of social groups that might become ‘hardened’ to changing smoking behaviors, and perceptions by the user and society that complete abstinence is the only option.  The stigma associated with a wide variety of behaviors has impeded progress toward improving population health in some cases, such as the reticence in making products and services available that could reduce the risk of communicable disease (eg needle exchanges), as well as harm reduction products that could benefit users and society when an individual addicted to a substance is not able to or chooses not to become completely abstinent (eg NRT, ENDS, smokeless tobacco).  This presentation will explore some of the conflicting aspects of stigma in tobacco control, explore similarities and differences regarding the stigma of using of different addicting substances, and consider some research, practice and policy directions.


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