The what is and why bother with a critical public health

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Typically, public health is defined as “promot(ing) and protect(ing) the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work and play” (from the APHA website). On the surface, this is pretty uncontroversial. It’s straightforward — might be a bit vague, but it’s a straightforward description of what people in the public health field are all working towards. But upon closer reflection, there are some questions that we should be asking…


Image of e-cigarette

There’s a lot of discussion today about e-cigarettes. Will they help current smokers quit smoking? Will they jeopardize public health efforts that aim to make cigarette smoking socially unacceptable, or could their popularity further denormalize cigarette smoking? Will they be a gateway into cigarette smoking for young people? If e-cigarettes are less harmful than conventional cigarettes, does stigmatizing e-cigarettes threaten public health efforts?

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