Moralized Hygiene and Nationalized Body: Anti-Cigarette Campaigns in China on the Eve of the 1911 Revolution

Wennan Liu, Institute of Modern History, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Advertisement for Dragon Cigarettes in "L'impartial" (Dagong bao), June 1905.
Abstract

Western knowledge about the injurious effects of cigarette smoking on smokers’ health appeared in the late nineteenth century and was shaped by both the Christian temperance movement and scientific developments in chemistry and physiology. Along with the increasing import of cigarettes into China, this new knowledge entered China through translations published at the turn of the twentieth century. It was reinterpreted and modified to dissuade the Chinese people from smoking cigarettes in two anti-cigarette campaigns: one launched by a former American missionary, Edward Thwing, in Tianjin, and a second by progressive social elites in Shanghai on the eve of the 1911 Revolution. By examining the rhetoric and practice of the campaigns, I argue that the discourse of hygiene they deployed moralized the individual habit of cigarette smoking as undermining national strength and endangering the future of the Chinese nation, thus helping to construct the idea of a nationalized body at this highly politically charged moment.