Epilogue: Tobacco in the People’s Republic of China, 1949–2010

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:
Epilogue: Tobacco in the People’s Republic of China, 1949–2010

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Tobacco's centuries-long career in China sheds light on many themes: the history of Chinese material culture, China's long-standing participation in transregional and international trade, and shifting patterns of popular and elite consumption, as well as the changing intersections of gender and consumption. Much about China's particular smoking culture has changed over the past sixty years. Most notably, the machine-rolled cigarette has triumphed. Whereas in the 1930s, only 15 percent of total tobacco consumption was in cigarette form, filtered cigarettes now constitute 95 percent of the domestic market. Hand-rolled cigarettes, long-stemmed pipes, and water pipes remain prevalent only in certain regions, particularly in the northeast and southwest. Tobacco remains an essential part of the Chinese economy; indeed, its importance has only increased over time. This chapter summarizes the main developments, first from 1949 to 1976 and then from 1978 to 2009, that have contributed to China's contemporary “cigarette culture.” It concludes with a discussion of the relevance of historical perspectives for dealing with China's burgeoning epidemic of smoking-related disease.

Keywords: China; tobacco; smoking; cigarettes; consumption; material culture; gender; international trade; smoking-related disease; cigarette culture

Chapter.  6447 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

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