UK National Smoking Cessation Conference - UKNSCC
2009 UK National Smoking Cessation Conference - London more...

The seductive diversion of addiction: a social perspective on tobacco dependence
Derek Heim, Senior Lecturer,School of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire, UK


Listen to the speech online audio

View Powerpoint Presentation powerpoint

Derek Heim

How a problem is conceptualised dictates how it is responded to. This talk examines how disapproved behaviour, in this case smoking, is widely construed by both professionals and lay people in terms of addiction leading to explanatory frameworks predominantly focused on Individual-level processes and/or biological / pharmacological factors. It is asserted that this focus not only divorces smoking from the actual social contexts in which it occurs, but also serves significant social and psychological functions that ultimately undermine cessation efforts. Conceptualising smoking in terms of addiction, it is argued, is self-handicapping and functions as a means of displacing issues of responsibility regarding both the individual smoker and society at large. The seductive diversion of the addiction concept is enhanced by its multifaceted nature which allows individuals to draw on readily available and socially appropriate shared scripts to explain smoking in various contexts. It is concluded that we have to rethink the ethos underlying smoking behaviours and the consequent approaches to cessation. We must move away from viewing smoking as the inescapable compulsive behaviour of an ‘addict’, acknowledge the importance of socio-cultural variables in smoking decisions and empower individuals to exercise volitional control over their smoking behaviour.


About the presenter
Derek Heim is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston. He is also Associate Editor of Addiction Research and Theory the leading outlet for research and theoretical contributions that view addictive behaviour as arising from psychological processes within the individual and the social context in which the behaviour takes place as much as from the biological effects of the psychoactive substance or activity involved. His recent research interests include the social and cultural impact of the smokefree legislation, drinking cultures and socialization to alcohol, and the health and well-being of minority ethnic communities.


related pages