The 'considerate' smoker in public space: the micro-politics and political economy of 'doing the right thing'

Health Place. 2000 Mar;6(1):1-14. doi: 10.1016/s1353-8292(99)00025-8.


This paper examines the discourse of 'interactions' as applied to the interpersonal management of smoking in public places (and to accounts thereof). Empirical data from a qualitative study of smokers and non-smokers in metropolitan Toronto, Ontario (Canada) are used to illustrate how smokers and non-smokers define and claim to operationalize 'consideration' in their daily lives. Drawing on the work of Foucault, Rose, Castel, and Bourdieu, the paper explores the possible significance of 'consideration' as a discourse of risk management masked as 'common sense', as a marker of social competence. In particular, parallels with emergent forms of governmentality embedded in community participation and individual self-monitoring and self-restraint are noted. Further, the social control implications of 'consideration' as moral discourse are examined with respect to Bourdieu's analysis of class struggles for (social) distinction. In this light, it is suggested that legitimate health concerns raised by tobacco control advocates cannot be divorced from other implicit social agendas which also fuel the drive for the 'purification of public space'.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Ontario
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Social Class
  • Social Control, Formal*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / prevention & control*


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution