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Finding the Boundary of Harm: Anthropological Approach to ‘Scientific debate’ on Electronic Cigarettes (Liquid/Cigarette Type) and Smoking Cessation
J Korean Soc Res Nicotine Tob 2019; 10(1): 9-12
Published online June 15, 2019
© 2019 The Korean Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco.

Kwanwook Kim*

Institute of Cross-Cultural Studies, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea
Correspondence to: 김관욱
서울대학교 비교문화연구소서울시 관악구 관악로 1 종합교육연구동(220동) 530호 ㉾ 08826
Tel: 02-880-6327
Fax: 02-874-9821
Received November 22, 2018; Revised April 22, 2019; Accepted April 22, 2019.
This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, dis-tribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
This paper is an anthropological approach to the scientific debate on the harmful effects of the heated tobacco products after the launch of them in Korea in July 2017. I discussed where and how the ‘boundary of pollution’ works in the debate over electronic cigarettes(so-called ‘liquid/cigarette type’) and smoking cessation. First, I discussed which of the cigarettes and smokers is the real target of the tobacco denormalization policy. The recent smoking cessation campaign (ex, ‘Smokers' Gab-Jil (=power-trip)’) seems to emphasize smokers more harmful than ‘harmful cigarettes’. The campaign can be attributed to the fear that the spread of new electronic cigarettes could lead to renormalization of smoking. However, it is contradictory that the cause of pollution is concentrated in smokers rather than tobacco companies and tobacco products. Next, I dealt with whether nicotine or tar is the substance that smokers should escape. I think the following precautions are needed when nicotine is used as a ‘harm reduction’ policy; both the government's fundamental policy attempts and the motivation for smokers to completely quit can be weakened. Third, I dealt with the boundary of pollution that smokers want to overcome through the ‘cigarette-type’ electronic cigarettes. I discussed that the fact that the new electronic cigarette has a low odor could help smokers to recover the disconnected human relationship due to tobacco denormalization. Finally, I also introduced two major boundaries of pollution (smoking as a working drug and as a means of national revenues), which have been discussed in anthropology.
Keywords : Anthropology; Electronic Cigarette; Smoking cessation; Boundary of pollution; Harm Reduction; Denormalization
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