Controlled Drug Use and Controlled Drug Policy: The Example of Smoking

Henner Hess, University of Frankfurt

A number of studies have shown that most drugs can be used in a controlled way. Controlled use may be, for several reasons, the more difficult the better a drug is integrated into every day life. Consequently, smoking may be the most difficult drug habit to indulge in moderately. But even in this case, of the many informal control mechanisms a quite successful one seems to be the reduction of stimuli which are associated with drug use by classical conditioning (a method also applied in behavior therapy). The present official tobacco control policy in fact if not intentionally, relies on this method as well as de-conditioning spaces and situations from smoking. As long as it does not drift into outright prohibition and leaves the basic right of individual self-determination untouched, it might achieve a combination of paternalistic State control with the respect for a liberal rights perspective - two rationales for drug policy which have been hitherto regarded as irreconcilable. Thus, tobacco might be seen as an example on which to model future drug control policy in general.

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Updated 05/20/2006