Amartya K. Sen

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Amartya Sen "is Lamont University Professor, and Professor of Economics and Philosophy, at Harvard University and was until recently the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. He has served as President of the Econometric Society, the Indian Economic Association, the American Economic Association and the International Economic Association. He was formerly Honorary President of OXFAM and is now its Honorary Advisor. Born in Santiniketan, India, Amartya Sen studied at Presidency College in Calcutta, India, and at Trinity College, Cambridge. He is an Indian citizen. He was Lamont University Professor at Harvard also earlier, from1988 – 1998, and previous to that he was the Drummond Professor of Political Economy at Oxford University, and a Fellow of All Souls College (he is now a Distinguished Fellow of All Souls). Prior to that he was Professor of Economics at Delhi University and at the London School of Economics." [1]

Sen is a 1998 Nobel Laureate in Economics.[2] He is married to Emma Rothschild.


Views on Tobacco and Smoking

Sen argues against the libertarian view that smoking is an issue of personal freedom. As a keynote speaker at the 13th World Conference on Tobacco or Health in 2006 in Washington, D.C., Sen stated that use of the argument that tobacco helps government earn revenue is not a good idea. On the contrary, Sen stated, "It’s a silly idea to earn revenue out of tobacco sales." He further pointed out that the claim that smoking is an issue of personal liberty is invalid, since smoking brings with it enormous social costs and affects the lives of others, too. Sen asks, if a tobacco user can lay claim to public health care, then how valid is his claim that smoking is a personal choice (pointing out that the smoker does not exist in isolation and depends on society to help him cope with his resulting health problems).[3]

Sen authored an article in the February 12, 2007 edition of the Financial Times titled, "Unrestrained smoking is a libertarian half-way house" in which he argued,

Libertarian logic for non-interference, when consistently explored, can have extraordinarily stern implications in invalidating the right to assistance from the society when one is hit by self-harming behaviour. If that annulment is not accepted, then the case for libertarian "immunity" from interference is also correspondingly undermined.

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch articles


  1. Directors, Global Humanitarian Forum, accessed December 2, 2009.
  2. Board, Hunger Project, accessed November 27, 2007.
  3. About, Health Impact Fund, accessed February 16, 2010.
  4. About, International Development Economics Associates, accessed April 5, 2008.
  5. Advisory Board, Institute for New Economic Thinking, accessed April 7, 2011.
  6. Advisory Board, Knowledge Ecology International, accessed December 20, 2010.
  7. Advisory Board, Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis, accessed April 27, 2008.
  8. Leadership Team, BRAC USA, accessed August 27, 2008.
  9. People, Global Equity Initiative, accessed November 21, 2007.
  10. People, Oxford Policy and Human Development Initiative, accessed November 21, 2007.
  11. GDAE Advisory Boards, Global Development and the Environment Institute, accessed December 28, 2007.
  12. International Advisory Board, MIT Program on Human Rights and Justice, accessed July 24, 2008.
  13. Organization, WOMANKIND Worldwide, accessed July 19, 2010.
  14. Namati Advisory Council, organizational web page, accessed October 1, 2012.

External links

Amartya Sen, The world of smoking guns, Tobacco Control 2007; 16: 59-63.

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