The 2001 Institute of Medicine report Clearing the Smoke: Assessing the Science Base for Tobacco Harm Reduction has helped to focus attention on the scientific basis for assessing tobacco harm reduction products. As the tobacco research and policy communities tackle the challenges of evaluating harm reduction, there are ethical issues that must also be addressed. There has, however, been very little writing on the ethics of this field. In an effort to spur research into answering these ethical questions, we present two complementary approaches. First we outline three overarching topics in tobacco harm reduction that would particularly lend themselves to study: (a) Is the pursuit of tobacco harm reduction an ethical goal? (b) What are the ethical considerations of tobacco harm reduction vis-à-vis pharmaceutical companies? and (c) What are the ethical considerations for harm reduction vis-à-vis tobacco companies? We then present one possible framework for analyzing the ethical issues that accompany particular tobacco harm reduction strategies. By considering the ethical dilemmas attendant to tobacco harm reduction in a prospective and thoughtful manner, we will be better prepared to handle the challenges that face us individually as researchers and collectively as a tobacco control community.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health