An 18th century engraving shows a Chinese family sitting down to a meal of rice. The mother smokes a pipe while carrying a baby on her back. Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
An 18th century engraving shows a Chinese family sitting down to a meal of rice. The mother smokes a pipe while carrying a baby on her back. Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Wee Kek Koon
Opinion

Opinion

Reflections by Wee Kek Koon

Smoking in China: from ‘herb that makes you forget your worries’ to ‘poisonous weed’ in the span of a few decades, and the 300 million still lighting up there over 300 years later

  • Tobacco was so prized in 17th century China that history records people bartering a horse for 600 grams of the weed, which was touted for its health benefits
  • However, a Chinese emperor banned smoking in 1639, and books began warning of its harmful effects. Yet today, a fifth of people in China still smoke

An 18th century engraving shows a Chinese family sitting down to a meal of rice. The mother smokes a pipe while carrying a baby on her back. Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
An 18th century engraving shows a Chinese family sitting down to a meal of rice. The mother smokes a pipe while carrying a baby on her back. Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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