The Emergence of the Chinese Cigarette Industry, 1880–1937

Carol Benedict

in Golden-Silk Smoke

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780520262775
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520948563 | DOI:
The Emergence of the Chinese Cigarette Industry, 1880–1937

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In some ways, the growing popularity of cigarettes in the late Qing and early Republican periods represented a remarkable transformation in consumer preferences in China, just as it did in other markets targeted by newly established transnational tobacco companies. The extraordinary success of the cigarette in China marked a dramatic shift in Chinese smoking culture away from handcrafted “native” pipe tobacco and snuff toward high-volume mechanized and standardized, rolled tobacco products marketed by foreign firms using modern advertising. In other ways, the history of the cigarette in China was simply an amplification of earlier patterns of tobacco production, marketing, and consumption. The agent most responsible for introducing the industrial cigarette to local Chinese markets was unquestionably the giant British–American Tobacco Company, which in the early 1930s faced strong competition from the myriad small workshops that produced hand-rolled cigarettes throughout the Lower Yangzi valley and the tobacco-producing areas of Anhui, Henan, Jiangxi, and Shandong. This chapter traces the emergence of the cigarette industry in China from 1880 to 1937.

Keywords: China; tobacco; smoking; cigarettes; marketing; consumption; British–American Tobacco; competition; tobacco companies; cigarette industry

Chapter.  8109 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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