This paper starts from the premise that, particularly in industrialized countries, the consumption decisions made by individuals and households are a major source of environmental strain. Several international organizations and national governments have addressed this issue, but, thus far, their efforts have had minimal effect. This paper examines the conditions necessary for the implementation of policy able to effectively reduce the environmental impact of household consumption. It draws from the experience of American tobacco control, a relatively rare example of a public effort that succeeded in reducing the negative consequences of an entitled consumer behaviour.
An extensive review of the tobacco control literature informs the conclusion that three fundamental changes brought about conditions conducive to a widespread reduction in smoking, namely, information about its negative effects became common knowledge and was widely believed as true; cigarettes became a target for taxes that raised the price of smoking while placing a penalty on a behaviour increasingly seen as ‘bad’; and the public sentiment regarding smoking shifted, deglamourizing the behaviour. The paper further suggests that these changes, which were the result of a concerted public effort, have a similar potential in reducing environmentally unsustainable consumption. A closer tying of consumption to the issue of climate change is suggested as a primary facilitating strategy.
- Sustainable consumption,
- consumer behaviour,
- tobacco control,
- climate change
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/rachel_krause/2/