A Revolutionary Attack on Tobacco: Bolshevik Antismoking Campaigns in the 1920s

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Abstract

ABSTRACT

Using archival records of the Commissariat of Public Health, journals, and propaganda materials from the antismoking campaign of the Soviet 1920s, this article argues that the revolutionary state pursued an antitobacco policy unique in the world in its attack on tobacco use at a national scale. The commissar of public health, Nikolai Alexandrovich Semashko, attempted to severely curtail tobacco cultivation and production, limit tobacco sales, and create a public opinion against tobacco with a propaganda campaign. Even in failing in its farther-reaching goals, the policy proved one of the most forward in terms of antismoking propaganda and state-sponsored treatment regimens, with the distribution of antismoking posters, pamphlets, articles, plays, and films as well as the creation of special state-sponsored smoking-cessation programs that boasted high success rates.

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