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The Ethics of Smoking* RobertE. Goodin
Philosophically, smoking has long been regarded as a paradigmatically privateregarding vice, best treated as such. It is a vice, to be sure: a dirty, disgusting habit, in the view of nineteenth-century moralists, best confined to smoke rooms and male company (Day 1836/1947, pp. 27-29; Schlesinger 1946, pp. 23, 3839; Martin 1983, p. 637). But it is a private vice harming only smokers themselves;' and it is therefore best left to their personal discretion and moderation. Smoking has thus long been regarded as something best controlled through codes of etiquette and social pressure, and completely unsuited to any very much more serious social sanctions. On the broad outlines of that analysis, Mill (1859/1975, chaps. 4, 5), Spencer (1893, pt. 3, secs. 214-15), and Sidgwick (1907, bk. 3, chap. 9, sec. 2) all seem agreed. That received wisdom continues to hold sway, in our own day, among the lay moralists of the medical profession, who editorialize in the Journal of the American Medical Association for "tobacco for consenting adults in private only" (Lundberg and Knoll 1986). Among professional philosophers, too, smoking has until recently been an area where traditional Millean precepts have been thought largely to rule (Feinberg 1971/1983, p. 11; Dworkin 1972/1983, pp. 32-33; Wikler 1978/1983, 1987; Daniels 1985, pp. 150-64). In current controversies, that conventional wisdom is being questioned in both its parts. That smoking is a merely private-regarding vice, harming only smokers themselves, is challenged by evidence of the harmful effects of "passive smoking" (i.e., nonsmokers' inhalation of smoke given off by others smoking around them). That smoking is best treated as we would an ordinary privateregarding vice-by informal social pressure, rather than by formal legal sanctions-is also being challenged by evidence of the addictive nature of the habit, making it difficult for smokers to start and stop at will. * I had much assistancein the preparationof this article.First I should thank Margo Goodin, whose files and continuing arguments have proven so helpful. I also received John Dryzek,Debbie Fitzmaurice, valuableassistancefrom Brian Barry,RichardDaynard, MarkFlanagan, AlvinGoldman,StevenHetcher,MartinHollis,Sheldon RobertFullinwider, Leader,Judith Lichtenberg,ClaudiaMills,Dorothy Rice, MarkSagoff, Thomas Schelling, Robert Sugden, Robert Tollison, RobertWachbroit,Kenneth Warner,and Albert Weale. An expanded...