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http://hum.sagepub.com The regulation of smoking at work
Joanna Brewis and Christopher Grey Human Relations 2008; 61; 965 DOI: 10.1177/0018726708093904 The online version of this article can be found at: http://hum.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/61/7/965

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Human Relations DOI: 10.1177/0018726708093904 Volume 61(7): 965–987 Copyright © 2008 The Tavistock Institute ® SAGE Publications Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore http://hum.sagepub.com

The regulation of smoking at work
Joanna Brewis and Christopher Grey

A B S T R AC T

Smoking was for most of the 20th century a normal part of everyday life in western society, including work organizations. Within a very short space of time it has become much less acceptable in the workplace and, in many countries, banned altogether. Why has this happened? This article seeks to answer this question. Although the main legislative basis of these bans is the health and safety of employees, we argue that the issues at stake are in fact more complex. Smoking, we contend, should be understood as a practice with diverse cultural meanings, and its regulation located within the context of a longstanding and dynamic moral discourse, of which scientific and medical discourse is only one aspect. In so doing we seek to open up a significant gap in the social scientific and organization studies literature for future analysis.

K E Y WO R D S

moral discourse regulation scientific discourse smoking workplace

Introduction
Imagine a time traveller from just about any time in the first three-quarters of the 20th century entering just about any workplace in the ‘developed’ world today. He or she might be struck by many changes, but one especially noticeable development would be that smoking has all but disappeared. Whereas even 30 years ago smoking was commonplace in Western organizations it has gradually become restricted or banned, either as a result of 965

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organizational policies or, increasingly, legislative interventions. In England and Wales, the Health Improvement and Protection Act (2006) outlawed smoking in all enclosed public spaces as of 1 July 2007. This legislation, like that in many other countries, is premised in the main on arguments about the harmful physical effects of passive smoking upon co-workers. In this sense, the workplace is the central terrain within which social practices around smoking are changing. Yet this transformation has received no attention at all from organizational analysts, and very little from social scientists in general. The purpose of this article is to analyse why smoking at work (and attitudes towards it) has undergone such a radical shift. This is an important issue for organizational analysis. Even at a mundane level there are implications of smoking bans at work in human resource management terms – such as the connections that might be formed in the ‘smokers’ huddle’, or the resentment that smoking breaks outside the office could generate amongst non-smokers. However, whilst we touch upon such issues as these, our primary concern is with the much larger question of how to make sense of this significant change in social rules. We will suggest that what is at stake is much broader than a workplace health and safety issue – despite this being the primary justification for the restrictions and interventions identified above – which extends beyond scientific and medical arguments about the undoubted dangers of smoking. To put it another way, the answer to the question ‘why has smoking virtually disappeared from the western workplace?’ cannot adequately be answered by saying that smoking is damaging to the health of smokers and passive (non-)smokers, even though these are the terms in which the relevant legislation is framed. Instead, we contend that there is a longstanding moral discourse about smoking within which scientific constructions of what is (and is not) healthy are but one issue. By moral discourse, we mean a concern with whether something is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in a normative sense – whether it is right or wrong – and judgements about practices in these terms. Our thesis is that smoking has become a practice which attracts negative moral judgements, and that to discuss it simply in terms of its effects on health is analytically unsatisfactory. One might illustrate this by comparing the case of smoking with that of sexuality. The latter is certainly the subject of scientific and medical interest, and the healthiness (or otherwise) of particular sexual practices is a significant part of discourse about sexuality. However, at the same time, sexuality is manifestly also the subject of intense moral attention. Thus discussions of the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases or the reduction of levels of teenage pregnancy, for example, are interwoven with debates around fidelity, monogamy and promiscuity. Our argument here is that smoking is constructed similarly, so that our understandings of it as an

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unhealthy, indeed life-threatening, habit intersect with and are informed by wider notions of what it means to be an upstanding and productive citizenworker in the modern industrialized West. More specifically, our understanding of smoking and its regulation is informed by Foucauldian analysis of moral discourse (Minson, 1985), and especially Foucault’s (1973, 1979) studies of madness and of sexuality. Here one sees how practices which are the subject of moral discourse, such as masturbation or homosexuality, become at various points in time medicalized as harmful to health. Then, upon the basis of this medicalization, they become legitimate targets for interventions and regulations of various sorts. These interventions may sometimes have the appearance of being detached from moral and normative concerns precisely because of the deployment of more ‘objective’ medical knowledge. Yet analytically they can only properly be understood by locating them within moral discourse, and recognizing medicalization as an aspect of, rather than an alternative to, that discourse. One of the consequences of the regulation of behaviour within the context of moral discourse is that it has potentially significant consequences in terms of the normalization and denormalization both of practices and of individual subjects. Smoking has in certain times and places been heavily censured, and smokers consequently subject to stringent punishment. In other times and places it has been entirely routine and smokers the norm rather than the exception. Currently, in Western countries, the situation is in flux but an attempt is explicitly being made to, in the words of the UK’s Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson, ‘denormalize smoking completely’ (quoted in Campbell, 2007: 2). Precisely because of this flux, it is inevitably enormously difficult at the present time to conduct the kind of analysis we attempt in this article. Whereas studies of the 19th-century regulation of masturbation, to return to the comparison with sexuality, carry very little moral charge for the modern reader, smoking is currently an extremely controversial topic which excites extravagant feelings in both proponents and opponents of its regulation.1 There are very few neutrals in this debate, ourselves included (and equally of course our readers). However, we want to make it absolutely clear at the outset that this article is not intended to make any argument for or against either smoking or its regulation. Our purpose is analytical rather than polemical, and we invite readers similarly to suspend their views on smoking as far as they can. The value of such an analysis as we see it is primarily to illuminate the issues around the regulation of smoking at work, and so to begin to fill a gap in the social scientific and organization studies literature. Smoking bans are an empirical reality: how do we explain them? Beyond that, how can we explain why it is that such strong feelings exist about smoking bans? If

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smoking were simply a health and safety at work issue, its contentiousness might seem puzzling. Viewed as an episode within a wider moral discourse, this regulation becomes more explicable. Our analysis seeks to unpack these issues. In pursuit of this, we will address three main issues, which structure the article. First, we point to the longstanding and diverse moral debates about smoking which preceded the knowledge that it was harmful to health. Second, we point to the contemporary regulation of smoking based initially on its harmfulness to the health of smokers and, more recently, to that of others. Although we acknowledge that the more sweeping bans of which the Health Improvement and Protection Act is an example are to some degree a byproduct of general health promotion strategies, our contention is that they derive their primary justification from arguments around the risks of passive smoking – especially given that no such bans exist with regard to, say, fatty foods or premium strength lagers. Third, we examine instances of contemporary regulation which appear to have little or no relation to health issues. We then conclude with a discussion which attempts to demonstrate the wider significance of the regulation of smoking at work.

A very short history of smoking
Smoking as a social practice carries an immense and complex range of signifiers – danger, eroticism, freedom, intellectuality, youth, selfishness, foolishness, weakness, toughness, gullibility, individualism, bohemianism and much else besides – as can be seen in the many deployments of smoking in films, novels and other cultural artefacts. That is to say, ‘smoking cigarettes is not only a physical act but a discursive one – a wordless but eloquent form of expression’ (Klein, 1993: 182). Smoking, as with other forms of drug taking, has moreover been deplored and encouraged, regulated and deregulated, at different junctures. It is richly interwoven with culture and history (Gately, 2001; Goodman, 1993). The full history of the human use of tobacco goes back at least 18,000 years (Gately, 2001) and is particularly associated with South American cultures. Tobacco use was internationalized by virtue of the activities of European explorers and colonists in the early 16th century and became more commonplace in Britain, Portugal and Spain in particular from the late 1500s onwards. Almost from the first, however, Western encounters with tobacco prompted censure. The first publication in England of an anti-smoking tract, Worke for chimney sweepers, occurred in 1602 (Gately, 2001). Of particular note is the diatribe against smoking published by King James I of England in 1604 – Misocapnus sive De Abusu Tobacci or Counterblast to smoking.

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Apart from linking smoking to diseases, moral weakness and indeed immorality, James also initiated a punitive regime of taxation on tobacco imports. Still, despite – or conceivably because of – such official condemnation, smoking continued to be taken up by an ever-increasing percentage of the Western populace, although its transmogrification into an acceptable everyday practice was scarcely smooth. There were many restrictions upon smoking even as it grew in popularity, including draconian taxation, notably in Prussia in the 1830s, Italy in the 1840s and some North American states in the 1850s.2 However, all of this was a mere prelude to the mass usage of tobacco occasioned by the development of the cigarette. Since the introduction of tobacco to Europe and later North America, pipes, cigars and chewing had been the normal methods of ingestion. The cigarette (i.e. ‘small cigar’) appeared in the early 18th century but its widespread adoption in the West was initially hampered by the perception that it was ‘French’ and ‘feminine’. But this image problem was in the end swept aside, partly because the cigarette offered a much more immediate smoking ‘hit’ than other forms of tobacco consumption, partly because the mass production methods that could now be applied to cigarette production made them cheap – although cigarettes continued to be regarded as more decadent than cigars or pipes. Indeed yet again a corresponding wave of anti-cigarette fervour was unleashed, with many new movements springing up, often associated with the temperance cause. Even those who were not opposed to tobacco per se joined in, with the American inventor and industrialist Thomas Edison, an inveterate chewer of tobacco, refusing to employ cigarette smokers (Gately, 2001). This ‘moral panic’ about cigarette smoking was, nonetheless, almost entirely marginalized by the two World Wars. During this period of time, smoking – especially of cigarettes – became not just normalized but encouraged as a way of ensuring morale and steadying nerves. By 1918, cigarettes had become by far the most common form of tobacco ingestion in the West and in both wars were routinely distributed to troops and to refugees. Antismoking and anti-cigarette movements had dwindled. Indeed it would be fair to say that cigarette smoking had become the norm (Corti, 1996). Cigarettes were likewise ubiquitous throughout the Second World War amongst civilians and service people alike, and to question smoking would have been not so much unpatriotic as incomprehensible. Indeed it was seen as central to the Allied war effort, thus US General John Pershing wrote, ‘[y]ou ask what we need to win this war. I will tell you, we need tobacco, more tobacco – even more than food’ (cited in Klein, 1993: 135). There was only one exception: Nazi Germany, where from 1933 there was a sustained antismoking campaign with bans in public places, on public transport, and

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amongst pregnant women and Luftwaffe officers. In fact, tax rates on tobacco in Germany in 1941 were actually higher than those in the UK in 2000. Moreover, it was German medical scientists who, in 1939, first identified a possible relationship between smoking and lung cancer. Even so, smoking was sufficiently popular that cigarettes were the main currency in the chaos of post-war Germany; their value being ultimately based upon the popularity of their consumption. In sum, Nazi Germany aside, cigarette smoking had become part of the fabric of everyday life in the USA, Europe and elsewhere by 1945. This was not just a matter of the habit itself being normal and tolerated. Rather, in mass cultural representations and especially films (e.g. Casablanca, 1943), smoking was omnipresent and carried associations of glamour. Smoking at this time in history meant normality, but it also meant sophistication and freedom. It was even promoted by doctors as being an aid to health. So it is against this background that the 1950s and 1960s revelations about the dangers of smoking must be set. In 1950, almost simultaneously, medical researchers in the United States and the United Kingdom identified a causal link between smoking and lung cancer.3 In 1962 the Royal College of Physicians in the UK produced a report entitled Smoking and health and in 1964 the US Surgeon General published another with the same title. These reports unequivocally recommended that the public be advised to stop smoking, primarily because of the risk of lung cancer. The modern history of smoking in the West may be said to date from this juncture but, as we have indicated, this should also be considered as a specific episode within a longstanding and contentious cultural apprehension of tobacco usage. In particular, this more exhaustive history shows how smoking has been a matter of moral and political concern for centuries, leading to regulation of various forms. Smoking has been at different times and in different places tolerated, encouraged, discouraged and banned. Indeed, even when smoking was relatively normal, it never entirely lost its connotations of dissipation, being sometimes associated with street gangs or, in the case of women, prostitution. However, and despite being largely in abeyance for the first five decades of the 20th century, the moral problematization of smoking in the West was revivified by the scientific discoveries discussed above, and resulted in a series of changes in regulation including restrictions on smoking in public places.

Regulating smoking
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about it. The official recommendation was that people should choose not to smoke. However, the habit proved remarkably difficult to break, partly no doubt because of its cultural embeddedness, partly of course because of the highly addictive qualities of nicotine. In the UK, adult smoking rates at the time the link to lung cancer was established were almost 80 per cent but even 20 years later, in the early 1970s, the figure remained at 65 per cent. Faced with this persistence, two kinds of regulatory development occurred from the 1970s onwards. The first was legislative, focusing on the advertising of cigarettes (although not necessarily tobacco, given that, as noted above, cigarettes have attracted particular opprobrium) and subsequently the sponsorship of sporting events in particular by tobacco companies. These legislative interventions were aimed at reducing the uptake of smoking not just by restricting advertising but by trying to break the associative link between smoking and glamour (e.g. tobacco firms’ sponsorship of motor racing). Other legislation was directly aimed at the consumer, requiring the provision of health warnings in the form of written injunctions and, in some countries, photographs of the damage caused by smoking (e.g. tumours) on cigarette packets. The second kind of regulation was not legislative but effected voluntarily by organizations. Examples include the banning or segregation of smoking in theatres, cinemas, public transport, bars, restaurants and many workplaces. Nevertheless, despite this growing regulation, smoking did not disappear and by the end of the 1980s 40 per cent of the UK adult population still smoked. What all of these developments also show, we suggest, is a distinctively Liberal approach to regulation. That is, they were primarily based upon individual choice. People were told of the risks of smoking, increasingly forcibly, and the decision was left to them. Arguably bans on tobacco advertising are less Liberal, in that they restrict the freedom of manufacturers and the provision of information to consumers. However, the main argument for such bans is the extent to which tobacco advertising recruits new smokers by impacting upon children, and Liberal notions of choice construct it as only properly available to those deemed to have reached the age of rationality. Organizations might restrict or ban smoking on their premises, but again it was their choice, and it then became their customers’ choice as to whether to visit those premises. In practice what this often meant was separate areas in trains, aeroplanes and cinemas, say. The most substantive recent shift in smoking regulation has come with the identification of the dangers of passive smoking or environmental tobacco smoke. These had been claimed as early as 1963 but by the late 1990s a much greater body of evidence had been collected. Although, as we will discuss shortly, this evidence remains heavily contested, passive smoking is now accepted as scientific truth by medical authorities such as the US Downloaded from http://hum.sagepub.com at Univ of Technology Sydney on March 31, 2009

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Surgeon General. The reason this is so crucial is because it means the decision to smoke is no longer regarded merely as a matter for the smoker: instead it becomes a legitimate target for regulation for the public good. In other words, if the basic principle of Liberalism is that you are free to do whatever you like so long as it does not harm other people, then the simple fact that smoking is harmful to the smoker does not mandate extensive regulation. But passive smoking means that others are harmed. In the classic statement of Liberalism, John Stuart Mill (1972 [1859]) argued that the cardinal principle for state intervention is the distinction between self-regarding and otherregarding actions. A self-regarding action affects only the person performing it whilst an other-regarding action impacts upon others. Evidence about the existence of passive smoking meant that smoking had become an otherregarding action. If, in shorthand, Liberal political philosophy allows individuals to do as they choose so long as they do not harm other people, then it is passive smoking which brings smoking into the ambit of legitimate Liberal intervention. In referencing the concept of an action being deemed other-regarding as a basis for its formal regulation in Liberal democracies, it is important to clarify that we are not implying any commitment on our part to such a principle, nor making any attempt to defend it. The point is that it is this principle which explains developments in the regulation of smoking. If this were not so, then it would be impossible to explain why smoking in public spaces was not banned prior to claims about the effect of smoking on others in the form of passive smoking. Nor would it be possible to explain why smoking regulation is configured in terms of the workplace rather than restrictions on smoking per se. Let us be absolutely clear on this point. The ostensible primary justification of smoking bans in public places is not and never has been the effect of smoking on smokers: it has always been passive smoking. This ‘other-regarding’ construction of smoking is often expressed in the phrase ‘your freedom to smoke stops at my nose’. Yet, commonsensically appealing as that idea may be, it is irrelevant to the legislative basis of smoking regulation. Some people choose to wear perfume: others find the smell irritating and obnoxious, even allergenic or mildly painful. Yet perfume is not banned because the basis of formal prohibition in Liberal democracies could only be that the odour in question is harmful. This of course is precisely the claim about passive smoking. Smoking bans in enclosed public spaces are not predicated upon the dislike that people may have of tobacco smoke, nor even upon the health effects upon other members of the public: instead they are predicated upon the effects on, very specifically, those who work in these spaces, and thus also have no choice but to frequent them. So although

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within public debate attention has primarily been given to the impact of these restrictions in social venues such as bars and restaurants, with the focus on the customers of such organizations or on the financial implications for the business affected (see, for example, Marketing Week, 2006), the restrictions arise, at least in theory, as a way of protecting non-smoking employees from passive smoking in their place of work. This of course is also the reason why organizational analysts should be concerned with smoking regulation. Since passive smoking is so central to the recent bans on smoking at work in the West, it is worth spending a little time exploring the relevant scientific argumentation. This is a very heavily contested area of scientific enquiry, as noted above, and the same evidence is reviewed by the antismoking group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and the pro-smoking lobby Freedom Organization for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco (FOREST). Each group has produced detailed reports (ASH, 2004; FOREST, 2005). Each group inevitably selects statistics to suit its purpose, and there are arguments on both sides as to the funding and motivation, as well as the interpretation, of the existing research studies. Whilst passive smoking has been associated with a number of diseases, it is lung cancer which is the most important in these debates because, of all smoking-related conditions, it is most strongly linked to mortality. Very few people diagnosed with lung cancer survive for five years: most are dead far sooner. The controversy over passive smoking and lung cancer revolves around two inter-related questions. One is whether the risk should be understood in absolute or relative terms; the other concerns long-term versus transient exposure to tobacco smoke. On the first issue, ASH (2004) state that there are 50 studies or meta-studies of passive smoking which show a 20–30 per cent increase in risk of lung cancer to lifetime non-smokers exposed to environmental tobacco smoke. This produces the figure used in British public health campaigns that passive smoking increases one’s risk of lung cancer by 25 per cent. However, based on the same studies, FOREST (2005) can equally accurately state that the absolute increases in risk shown by these studies are from a 0.001 per cent chance of contracting lung cancer to between 0.0012 per cent and 0.0013 per cent. Other studies show no increase in risk and some even show a decline. Therefore it is possible to present the risks in very different ways, according to the purpose of the presentation. It is also possible to show that similar or much greater percentage risk increases are associated with a variety of what would normally be thought of as relatively non-problematic behaviours. For example, those who drink whole milk are apparently 114 per cent more likely to contract lung cancer than those who do not (FOREST, 2005). Clearly, the reason for these disputes and anomalies is that the numbers under discussion are so

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small that (unlike the link of smoking and lung cancer) statistical clarity in this regard is difficult to establish. On the second issue, all of the studies showing increased lung cancer risk to non-smokers exposed to tobacco smoke focus on long-term cohabitation or long-term exposure at work (Hackshaw et al., 1997). Moreover, these studies typically refer to 30–40 years of exposure to secondhand smoke, and, as such, they rely upon retrospective recording devices like recollections of how often and to what extent windows were open in the home some decades ago. Enstrom and Kabat’s (2003) study suggests that even long-term exposure presents little if any risk, although this work has been very heavily attacked and claims made that it is influenced by tobacco industry funding – a claim the authors deny. Inevitably then their study has been seized on by both sides of the debate and generated a great deal of discussion, although despite this it is not referenced by ASH (2004). So far as transient exposures are concerned, there are no reputable studies (and ASH would certainly have an interest in identifying such studies if they existed) which show that short-term exposure to tobacco smoke increases lung cancer risk. In the light of this, our proposition that passive smoking establishes smoking as an other-regarding action is in fact not as straightforward as it seems. While it might conceivably be applied to shared workspaces, it is difficult to see how it can be used to proscribe segregated areas such as smoking rooms in organizations, including such spaces in social venues like bars. The argument against such segregation is the risk to non-smoking employees who enter the smoking area, for example to clean or to collect glasses. Yet given that, as we suggest above, there are no data indicating that transitory exposure to cigarette smoke escalates the risk of developing lung cancer, we can ask what it is that makes this risk, ahead of all others (petrol fumes, for example), something that is a regulatory priority. Nevertheless, it has become such a priority. Probably the first ban on smoking in all enclosed public places was that in South Africa in 2000 and since then many other ‘developed’ countries have followed suit, most recently England and Wales as already established. There are further complexities in the issues posed by regulation on the grounds of passive smoking. Foremost amongst these is the understanding of what constitutes the private and public spheres. If smoking is bad because it harms others, then why not regulate smoking in the home? After all, other people inhabiting a smoker’s home inhale their cigarette smoke. But the home is the private sphere, and so deemed by Liberal democracies – thus far – largely unregulatable. Some restrictions are in place, such as the instruction from agencies (including the UK children’s charity NCH and various city and

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metropolitan councils) to would-be adoptive parents that smokers are at a disadvantage in terms of securing an adoptive placement as compared to nonsmokers. These agencies also stipulate that children with breathing difficulties and very young children will probably not be placed with smokers under any circumstances. This gives rise to the situation where a biological parent may smoke in the same room as his/her child, but an adoptive parent may not – which of course can be attributed to it simply being easier for governments and associated agencies to regulate adoptive parents, especially in Liberal cultures. Here then we also encounter the issue of enforceable rights. Since these do not, in terms of health and safety law, exist within families, the home has been left mainly unpoliced in this regard. It is a site of intervention only to the extent that it is also a workplace; that is, part of the public sphere, within which legal rules can be enforced. Thus, as an example: Smokers . . . are to be asked to stub out cigarettes at home. The British Medical Association has ‘informally backed’ Royal College of Nursing plans to encourage people not to smoke before receiving a home visit from a health professional. (The Times, 21 February 2006a) Equally, it is not at all impossible that smoking will be reconfigured as a form of child abuse, and so brought within the ambit of rights discourse. Indeed Sir John Britton, the Chair of the UK Royal College of Physicians’ Tobacco Advisory Group (quoted in Campbell, 2007), has implied in public commentary that this is exactly what should happen. Any such development would further testify to the way that both academic and popular discourse have progressively eroded the public/private distinction. No doubt there are good reasons for this: the problematic theoretical dualism of the rational and emotional realms being one; the increasingly unsustainable empirical distinction between home and work being another. Smoking is simply a high-profile example in which the inextricable relationship between public and private spheres is made visible. The private home of the consumer is at times simultaneously the workplace of the service provider, just as in a bar the private act of the consumer smoking is an infringement on the public space of the bartender. The regulation of smoking can therefore be understood in terms of a perennial boundary dispute about what is private and what is public; and what is a self-regarding act and what is an other-regarding act. Nonetheless, the latter notion is arguably stretched to its limit in the Royal College of Nursing recommendations, since there is no medical evidence that briefly entering a space where people have been smoking some time earlier constitutes a measurable risk to the worker.

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In the light of all this, we contend that the prohibition of smoking in enclosed public places is hard to explain solely on medical grounds. At most, the scientific evidence only warrants a policy of segregated areas. And certainly, if the basis of a complete ban is that smoking is other-regarding, then it is difficult to understand how that could apply to private clubs set up for, and staffed by, smokers. We might understand it instead as part of a general health promotion strategy, as suggested earlier; and some medical professionals and anti-smoking activists have argued for bans on exactly this basis. The July 2005 Royal College of Physicians’ report entitled Going smoke-free: The medical case for clean air in the home, at work and in public places, for example, claims that bans on smoking in public encourage many people to quit altogether and, of those who continue to smoke, that many will also stop smoking at home. However, the evidence thus far from Ireland, where a ban has been in place for some time, is that over 20 per cent of the adult population continues to smoke. Plus, as the basis for a governmental policy in Liberal democracies, this justification is fraught with difficulties since it requires that a public interest be established in the health of others, and would in principle constitute an argument not just for the restriction of smoking but for its prohibition – and then, by extension, prohibitions on alcohol, fast food, extreme sports and so on. Such an agenda would, to say the least, be a severe political challenge as it implies a major recalibration of the relationship between the state and individuals in all but the most authoritarian societies, precisely because it is not based upon the otherregarding argument which Liberalism requires. Nor can the other-regarding argument be sustained by reference to the costs to the public of health care. In the UK, smoking-related illnesses cost the NHS around £2 billion each year, whilst the tax take on tobacco is around £8 billion: overall, then, smoking is not a drain on the public purse. Moreover, the shorter average lifespan of smokers reduces collective pension costs. Our point in making these arguments is not to discuss whether smoking should be regulated and to what extent. It is instead to suggest that the way in which it is increasingly regulated in Western workplaces, and the arguments used to justify this, cannot adequately be understood in terms of medical science, Liberal political theory or even utilitarian theory. Something else is at stake. We will elaborate upon that shortly, but first we will amplify the point by looking at related forms of regulation.

Regulating smokers
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rather different position – that it is the prohibition of smoking irrespective of any potential harm to others which matters. For example, NHS employees in North Cumbria are now subject to disciplinary action if they smoke whilst in uniform, regardless of whether they are actually at work or not (News and Star, 19 January 2006). Obviously there can be no more risk to a smoker in uniform (or to those exposed to their smoke) than to a smoker out of uniform. The reasoning as we understand it appears to be that, since smoking is unhealthy, a health worker in uniform should not smoke lest this encourages others to smoke, or at the very least undermines understandings of smoking as physically injurious. But here we are moving beyond the conceptualization of smoking being other-regarding and harmful to those others – and thus legislatively regulatable – into territory which regards smoking as morally questionable, especially when practised by those who work for a national health provider. This seems to be confirmed by the stance of the UK Health Development Authority, which argues that: Hospitals should aim to ban smoking in all their buildings and throughout their grounds . . . The HDA said it was taking such a strong line – it had previously been assumed a smoking ban would only apply to buildings – to send a strong message about the dangers of smoking. HDA chairman [sic] Dame Yve Buckland said: ‘As the UK’s largest employer, the NHS has a moral imperative to lead by example and promote the no-smoking message.’ (BBC News, 2005a, emphasis added) The thinking behind this recommendation seems to us to be much less about the direct consequences of (active or passive) smoking for health, particularly as it is hard to see how smoking in hospital grounds poses a passive smoking risk. There is no conceivable health benefit to anyone in requiring smokers to go outside security-controlled perimeters – especially given the tragic murder of Cheryl Moss. Moss, a nurse at St George’s Hospital, Essex, was stabbed to death on 6 April 2006 whilst taking a cigarette break on a footpath, just outside hospital grounds where smoking is forbidden. These perimeters, we believe, therefore represent a zone of moral judgement concerning the proper mission of the NHS (to, inter alia, discourage the general populace from smoking). All UK hospitals now erect such boundaries, giving rise to the sight of medical professionals – who, ironically, are also proportionately more likely to smoke than the general population – and others smoking just outside the limits set. Since this also means that they are typically smoking on the public highway, the exposure of others to tobacco smoke is, again ironically, likely to be greater as a result of the regulation. Moreover, if the issue is setting a bad example to the public then, in a third irony, these staff are more visible as a result of this regulation. Downloaded from http://hum.sagepub.com at Univ of Technology Sydney on March 31, 2009

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As with the issue of why the indeterminate risks posed by segregated areas are deemed more worthy of regulation than other more determinate hazards, it is worth asking why smoking is deemed a special case in this regard. Health workers are not expected to avoid dangerous sports, abstain from drinking alcohol or follow healthy diets: what is it about smoking which is different? In any case, such bans are not confined to this sector. City council workers in Manchester are prohibited from smoking inside work buildings and from taking cigarette breaks outside, on pain of dismissal – and a similar restriction is being proposed by Lancashire District Council (The Times, 15 November 2006b). Similarly, the British retailer Marks and Spencer has banned its employees from smoking in uniform in the vicinity of its stores, arguing that this gives customers a poor impression (Nash, 2006). Clearly these (and many other) examples do not hinge on passive smoking, and in the case of the Marks and Spencer ban are explicitly about corporate image. But M&S’s image, unlike that of the NHS, is not especially associated with the promotion of health. It seems rather that smoking is in some general sense stigmatic; a straightforwardly ‘bad thing’. These instances are also manifestations of a much more intensive clampdown on smoking in and around workplaces being effected worldwide, and in the USA in particular. In 2005 the World Health Organization banned the hiring of smokers altogether (Jack, 2005). That is, not only was smoking banned in this workplace but smokers were banned from working there. Relatedly (and again amongst other similar instances), a Florida Sheriff’s Office now requires job applicants to take a polygraph test to prove they do not smoke outside work hours (Buncombe, 2005), and in the UK at least one person has been sacked because she smoked outside work, with her lawyer commenting that no law exists to stop employers hiring only non-smokers (BBC News, 23 November 2005b).4 But even these examples still do not represent the most far-reaching ways in which smoking is being regulated in contemporary Western society. There are now increasing restrictions on smoking outdoors – such as the aforementioned establishment of smoke-free zones around hospitals, something which is also becoming commonplace on university campuses and on open-air train platforms. Other instances of these practices which do not pertain specifically to the workplace include the 2006 ban in Calabasas, California, on smoking in the street, on pavements, in car parks and on restaurant patios (Springen, 2006). There are also bans in the home, without recourse to arguments about employees who might be entering these homes, as in Michigan. A campaigner for this ban suggested it was not discrimination, as smokers do not represent a protected class (Bay City News, 24 June 2005). Moreover, within hours of the introduction of the ban on

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smoking in enclosed public areas in England, a number of local authorities announced plans to ban smoking in all public areas, or within areas such as parks. These and myriad similar examples, the trajectory of which is accelerating, indicate that the banning of smoking in enclosed public places on the basis of the risks associated with passive smoking will not represent the end of the long story of smoking regulation. So, whilst it is currently unlikely that smoking will be entirely criminalized in the West, it is quite conceivable that it will become even more heavily proscribed than it is at present.

Discussion
We have suggested at several points that there is something at stake in the regulation of smoking which cannot simply be understood in terms of the discovery of its many dangers to health. Moreover, as Klein (1993: 185) asks, ‘what is the value assigned to health that makes it . . . the sole criterion of what is good and beautiful?’. This is a very profound question, which pries open a whole series of issues about contemporary western society going well beyond that of smoking. Whereas other societies may have prized virtue, goodness, service to others or any number of other values, the ‘developed’ West is wedded to health as a primary, and to some extent overriding, value. Perhaps this represents the outworkings of secularism and materialism: since (many of us assume that) our only existence is physical and time-bound, we regard the maximization of our longevity as imperative. In this way, the body becomes a site for intensive effort, to be carefully monitored and tended, as has been widely commented upon in recent social theory (e.g. Bordo, 1993; Crossley, 2001; Shilling, 2003). At some socio-psychological level this preoccupation with the healthy body can be linked to existential apprehensions of death – as if a combination of individual care and scientific know-how will eventually render it obsolete. Within this context, smoking, of cigarettes in particular, has increasingly become a signifier pregnant with negative meaning. It would hardly be thought that smoking conferred any pleasure, so close has its association with cancer and death become. Whilst to some extent this association might fuel the appeal of cigarettes as dangerous, youthful and glamorous, it more readily connotes decay and mortality – so much so in fact that recently antismoking campaigners have successfully fought to have images of it excised from pictures, films and cartoons. For example, a complaint was made to the broadcasting watchdog, Ofcom, in August 2006 regarding two Tom and Jerry cartoons shown on children’s channel Boomerang, in which characters

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are depicted smoking. The accusation was that these cartoons glamorized the habit, and that this was inappropriate for a young audience. Turner Broadcasting, Boomerang’s owners, responded by proposing to remove any references to smoking from its 1700-strong Hanna-Barbera cartoon archive (Sweney, 2006a, 2006b). In the same way, many images from the past showing famous people smoking (e.g. Brunel and Sartre) have now been airbrushed in deference to contemporary sensibilities. Moves like these are made – ostensibly at least – because such images might encourage others, especially children, to take up smoking, but given the many other things which susceptible minds might emulate we prefer the more obvious interpretation that the very sight of a cigarette can invoke hatred and fear. It is no exaggeration then to say that smoking is becoming stigmatic in very much the sense that Goffman (1968) applied the term to ‘deviant’ behaviour such as drug addiction, prostitution and crime. Whilst this is a general social issue, it has (as should by now be clear) a specifically organizational twist because it is the workplace which is the frontline of the battle over tobacco usage. In most organizations up until relatively recently the working day was accompanied or punctuated by smoking in a manner as taken-for-granted as the ingestion of caffeine still is. Indeed it seems to us that, to re-invoke Foucault, the gradual enforcement of smoking prohibitions has created new subject positions or identities. Specifically, what was once an activity – smoking – has become an identity so that one is now either a smoker or a non-smoker. Moreover, it is not that smoking – as with sodomy in Foucault’s (1991) example of the discursive appearance of the homosexual subject – is being problematized for the first time, for as we have shown above that is not true. Instead it is being problematized differently, with the emphasis now on the other-regarding characteristics of smoking, and passive smoking in particular. The identities of smoker and non-smoker have become so common that it is difficult to recall that they are relatively recent, but we can pick out their significance by considering the contrast with the example we gave just now of coffee. Someone who drinks a cup of coffee at work – or indeed anywhere else – is not labelled as such, except possibly in the very trivial sense of distinguishing them from a tea-drinker. Conceivably, someone who drinks huge quantities of coffee might be labelled a ‘caffeine addict’, probably jokingly. But surely no one would announce themselves to be pro-coffee or anti-coffee? Yet in the past coffee, too, was the subject of intense moral debate and regulation, at times being depicted as immoral and decadent. Nor is coffee consumption purely self-regarding, since it has a discernible impact on mood and work performance (Rehn, 2005). Yet nowadays there is very little moral charge associated with its consumption, excepting the frequent

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‘lifestyle’ advice to cut down on caffeine. If there were such a moral charge, it would be possible to construct arguments for the regulation of coffee drinking at least as persuasive as those for smoking bans (on the one hand, it is bad for you, being associated with raised blood pressure and increased cardio-vascular risk; on the other hand co-workers are affected by the heightened nervous state of caffeine-junkie colleagues). That this seems absurd reflects the fact that coffee-drinking is an entirely normalized part of today’s workplace – just as smoking used to be. The denormalization of smoking produces and reproduces the identities of smoker and non-smoker alike precisely because smoking has now become a very visible activity, undertaken only in set times and places. We can liken this to Foucault’s (1991: 323) commentary about the labelling of sexual perversions during the 19th century in particular, and the concomitant production of sexual identities: The machinery of power that focused on this whole alien strain did not aim to suppress it, but rather to give it an analytical, visible, and permanent reality: it was implanted into bodies, slipped in beneath modes of conduct, made into a principle of classification and intelligibility, established as a raison d’être and a natural order of disorder. As we have seen, the regulation of smoking in the workplace initially tended to take the form of the provision of a smoking area or room where a cigarette break could be taken. With the introduction of smoking bans these rooms have disappeared (based on the argument that they are also the workplaces of non-smoking staff such as cleaners) and smoking breaks are now taken in the open air. Thus a new organizational practice can commonly be observed; the ‘smokers’ huddle’ just outside the entrance to a workplace. In big cities in particular, this has become a very common sight – although, as noted above, there are increasing moves to impose no-smoking zones around these entrances, which only looks like ensuring that the huddle moves further and further from the relevant building. Such developments should be of interest to organizational analysts because they present some clear potential significance. What links the people in the smokers’ huddle is, obviously, that they smoke. But this opens up the possibility of relationships being formed that would not otherwise occur, for example between people in different organizational functions or hierarchical positions who might not normally meet. Some of these encounters may well have consequences within the workplace, in terms of information sharing and idea generation. Moreover, and precisely because of the increasingly stigmatic character of smoking, it is likely that a particular kind of solidarity,

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founded perhaps upon feelings of resentment or even persecution, would occur within the smokers’ huddle. At the same time, although smoking breaks outside the workplace arise because of smoking bans within, they may also cause resentment amongst those who do not smoke. There may be a suspicion that smokers have an excuse for slacking, as illustrated in a fictional case presented by Rogers (2006: 64) in which a non-smoking library employee records her colleagues’ cigarette breaks and presents the data to her manager, with the conclusion that one worker in particular: spends 30 minutes a day outside smoking. That’s two and half hours a week. That’s ten hours a month, 120 hours a year! Divide that by an eight-hour work day, and Phyllis Wright [the fictional smoker] works 15 fewer days a year than I do for the same salary, vacation, and benefits. And that’s just not fair. Interestingly, in two analyses of this case, Cook Holloway (2006) and Schaade (2006) suggest that it is not smoking which is at issue here but lack of clarity in the organization’s break policy, as well as the invidious surveillance undertaken by the non-smoker. However, the latter’s indignation is obvious from the quotation above. It may indeed be that the very possibility of the kinds of information sharing we have alluded to generates such suspicion amongst others. All of these are issues which warrant empirical analysis, which so far as we are aware has never been attempted – perhaps because smokers are considered somehow not to merit attention from organization studies scholars, as if to analyse their behaviour and attitudes implies endorsing their stigmatic habit. Indeed one of us has experienced – albeit indirectly – exactly this construction of a similar project on the introduction of employee drug testing in UK organizations (for discussion see Brewis et al., 2006). There are, however, wider issues posed for organizational analysis by the case of smoking regulation. Principal amongst these is the challenges it raises for accounts which stress the role of regulation in the constitution of the productive subject (Rose, 1989) or which link the management of the workplace to functional considerations of productivity. It may be that smokers are more likely to take time off sick, but smoking also has the capacity to enhance mental faculties. In what we are told is the new knowledge economy, might we not expect to be recounting how knowledge workers are encouraged to smoke, or for that matter ingest other, perhaps more efficacious, performance-enhancing drugs in order to incite ever greater levels of creativity? Certainly a state of caffeinated alertness has long been the norm

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in the western workplace – an alertness which the greedy organizations of the contemporary globalized economy undoubtedly prize (Rehn, 2005). This also connects to Schivelbusch’s argument, summarized by Pollan (2002: 152), that tobacco became socially acceptable after the Industrial Revolution because it helped in the ‘reorientation of the human organism to the primacy of mental labor’, in a way analogous to the way that smoking was linked to combat performance in both World Wars. Although this is an over-simplification of a much more chequered series of historical developments, as outlined earlier, it permits us to ask whether smoking bans at work could conceivably damage organizational productivity and the bottom line. Equally, might these bans not lead to workers reducing their productivity in another way by taking cigarette breaks, possibly further and further away from their offices, as suggested earlier in our analysis of the Rogers (2006) article? Alternatively, organizational analysts might opt for another explanation entirely, which veers away from the productive economy and towards understanding the contemporary workplace as a moral economy in which regulation proceeds ‘for “reasons of state”, the reasons of the governors, which require in the governed docility, obedience, discipline and self-control’ (Jackson & Carter, 1998: 49). Especially in its more pronounced forms (e.g. bans on smoking in uniform or on taking cigarette breaks outside during working hours), organizational smoking regulation could be seen as a manifestation of the Foucauldian concept of dressage – a ‘discipline’ or ‘taming’ of employees who smoke, not for reasons of enhancing productivity but rather ‘for the satisfaction of the controller and as a public display of compliance, obedience to discipline’ (Jackson & Carter, 1998: 54). All such ‘non-useful’ forms of regulation, Jackson and Carter suggest, can be understood as contributing to the inculcation of submissiveness amongst workers, as well as demonstrating to interested onlookers – shareholders, say – that all is as it should be in the moral universe of the organization. Workplace smoking bans from this perspective might be argued to symbolically reinforce management prerogative, authority and employee discipline in the same way as did prohibitions on whistling and singing in the early factories (Bauman, 1983). But whatever the case may be, our argument is that, just as the history of smoking reveals a great complexity of different meanings, understandings and practices, by the same token we have to understand the contemporary regulation of smoking in a similarly complex way. It may now seem self-evident that smoking should be restricted, in the same way that, in the recent past, it seemed self-evident that it should not. But there is no simple logic, either economic or scientific, at work here.

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Conclusion
In the introduction to this article we suggested that the regulation of smoking in the workplace could not be understood simply as a health and safety issue, but rather needs to be located within the wider context of moral discourse. Smoking is laden with historically and culturally accreted meanings which cannot be reduced to the discovery of a health risk and attempts at its eradication. We hope we have established this by showing that smoking has a long history in which it has at many times been thought of as morally wrong, even when it was not understood to be physically dangerous. The revelation of its very real physical dangers largely explains why smoking rates have declined in the period since 1950. However, this for us does not adequately account for regulations which outlaw smoking in enclosed public places: the evidence of the health dangers of passive smoking, at least and especially in segregated areas, is not sufficiently robust to explain why smoking should be subject to such stringent regulation. Moreover, the growing restrictions on smoking in non-enclosed public spaces have even less explicit medical warrant. Our explanation of these developments in terms of moral discourse reveals, in summary, three issues. First, the historical moral charge associated with smoking was revivified by the emergence of the evidence about its effects on health. Second, within contemporary western societies, smoking has become bound up with wider concerns about health and mortality. Third, smoking has become an important terrain upon which the governance of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour is contested. In short, we argue that the medical knowledge that ‘smoking is bad for you’ has to be understood as slipping into the moral proposition that ‘smoking is bad’. This then has effects at the level of individuals because the stigmatization of smoking slips into the notion that ‘smokers are bad’. At the very least, the consequence is to render smokers abnormal and marginal. That has concrete effects within organizations of the sort we have indicated. Smoking is a fascinating subject in that it is a here-and-now example of a very rapid shift in the regulation of social and especially workplace behaviour. Societies do, of course, always regulate what is acceptable and unacceptable, and collectively draw moral boundaries around this regulation through legislative and other means. Yet the pace of this particular transformation – within the space of one generation – is remarkable. Smoking was an entirely routine behaviour, actively encouraged by governments as recently as the 1940s, and still relatively uncontentious in most quarters until the 1970s or even later. The speed with which it has become denormalized also

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partly explains why smoking and its regulation is currently so controversial. This presents particular problems of analysis which will disappear if, as seems plausible, in the future smoking becomes no more than an historical curiosity. In the meantime, it is not our job as analysts to adjudicate between the competing sides – although we accept that so charged is the subject in some quarters that much of this article will inevitably offend partisans. Instead, we have sought to explain that, whatever the rights and wrongs of the discussions about smoking and passive smoking, the recent trend towards its regulation is a ‘social fact’ of great complexity and some significance, especially to those interested in understanding work organizations. That at least 25 per cent of the adult population in the UK (and far higher proportions elsewhere) are now heavily restricted in the conduct of a legal activity is surely something of considerable social scientific interest. Little has been said about the topic within academic literature and at a time when there are increasingly vociferous calls for academic relevance it seems appropriate to begin to address it – as we have tried to do here.

Notes
1 This strength of feeling is less evident in attributable public sources, but the many web-based discussions of the recent smoking ban in England and Wales are extraordinarily vitriolic: on the one hand, smokers are routinely described as disgusting, selfish degenerates and, on the other, anti-smokers as puritan fascists. See, for example, Jenkins (2007). In other parts of the world, anti-smoking penalties were far harsher. In the Ottoman Empire some 25,000 smokers or suspected smokers were put to death between 1623 and 1640, whilst in Persia during the same period tobacco merchants were executed by having molten lead poured down their throats (Gately, 2001). On the other hand, and in order to further demonstrate smoking’s very chequered history, GathorneHardy (1977: 38) tells us that, during the 1660s at the English public school Eton, ‘smoking was made compulsory because it was thought to be a prophylactic against the plague. Thomas Hearne in his diaries describes Tom Rogers telling him that “he was never so much whipped in his life as he was one morning for not smoking”’. It was the aforementioned rise of the cigarette as a means of tobacco ingestion which led to this identification of the health problems associated with smoking, given that it coincided with an increase in the incidence of lung cancer on both sides of the Atlantic. Other ingestion methods (cigars, pipes, etc.) do not have this association, partly because cigarettes require full inhalation, partly because of the carcinogenic properties of additives to cigarette tobacco, and partly because of the paper that encases cigarettes. As a historical aside, measures such as these are reminiscent of the activities of the Ford Motor Company in the early 20th century – long before the medical evidence about the dangers of smoking, still less passive smoking, existed – when any employee caught smoking on or off organizational premises became simultaneously ineligible for the Five Dollars a Day profit-sharing scheme (Corbett, 1994).

2

3

4

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References
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Marketing Week. What next for smoke-free pubs?, 23 February 2006, p. 34. Mill, J.S. On liberty. London: Dent and Sons, 1972 [originally published 1859]. Minson, J. Genealogies of morals. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1985. Nash, E. Exclusive: M&S ban sparking up. Mirror.co.uk, 6 April 2006, available online at: [http://www.mirror.co.uk], accessed 12 October 2006. News and Star. 19 January 2006. Accessed via FOREST, available online at: [http://www. forestonline.org/output], accessed 12 October 2006. Pollan, M. The botany of desire: A plant’s-eye view of the world. London: Bloomsbury, 2002. Rehn, A. Buzzed on beans: The invisible drug. Druglink, 20 November-December 2005, pp. 12–13. Rogers, M. How do you manage? Case study: smoking gun. Library Journal, 1 March 2006, p. 64. Rose, N. Governing the soul. London: Routledge, 1989. Royal College of Physicians. Going smoke-free: The medical case for clean air in the home, at work and in public places. London: Royal College of Physicians, 2005. Schaade, B. Analysis II: Put it in writing. Library Journal, 1 March 2006, p. 65. Shilling, C. The body and social theory, 2nd edn. London: SAGE, 2003. Springen, K. Time to stub out smoking. Newsweek, 147, 27 February 2006, p. 12. Sweney, M. Tom and Jerry quit smoking. Guardian Unlimited, 21 August 2006a, available online at: [http://www.guardian.co.uk/], accessed 12 October 2006. Sweney, M. Smoking ban hits Tom and Jerry. Guardian Unlimited, 22 August 2006b, available online at: [http://www.guardian.co.uk/], accessed 12 October 2006. The Times. Homing in on smokers. 21 February 2006a, available online at: [http://www. timesonline.co.uk], accessed 12 October 2006. The Times. News in brief. 15 November 2006b, available online at: [http://www. timesonline.co.uk], accessed 12 October 2006.

Joanna Brewis is Professor of Organization and Consumption at the University of Leicester School of Management. Her research interests centre on the intersections between the body, identity, culture, consumption and processes of organizing. As well as the project at hand, Jo is currently involved in exploring the preoccupation with and commodification of the ‘chav’ on the contemporary British gay scene with her colleague and partner in crime Gavin Jack. Unsurprisingly she is also a smoker of long standing. [E-mail: j.brewis@le.ac.uk] Christopher Grey is Professor of Organizational Behaviour at Warwick Business School, University of Warwick and Senior Associate of the Judge Business School, University of Cambridge. He has wide-ranging research interests including, currently, the intersection of organization, intelligence and security studies. [E-mail: Chris.Grey@wbs.ac.uk]

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