Over the last hundred years, the cigarette has become a pillar of consumer life in China and many parts of the world. In 2010, the Chinese tobacco industry produced over two trillion cigarettes, generating over U.S. $90 billion in taxes and profits. Over 300 million Chinese citizens now use cigarettes every day, and tobacco kills 90 times more people each year than HIV/AIDS in China.
How has the cigarette become so integrated into the fabric of everyday life across the People’s Republic of China?
The importance of answering this question is unmistakable, but very little historical research and writing has examined China’s cigarette industry from the mid-20th century to the present. To get to the heart of this question, historians, health policy specialists, sociologists, anthropologists, business scholars, and other experts will meet Mar. 26 and 27 at the new Stanford Center at Peking University for a conference organized by the Asia Health Policy Program. They will examine connections intricately woven over the past 60 years between marketing and cigarette gifting, production and consumer demand, government policy and economic profit, and many other dimensions of China’s cigarette culture.