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Images of youth: the issue of juvenile smoking, 1880-1914

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


<mark>Journal publication date</mark>09/1996
Issue number9
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)1379-1386
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Despite its enormous social and medical significance, smoking has attracted little interest from historians. This article examines the issue of juvenile smoking in Britain between 1880 and 1914, and it locates this theme in the context of wider debates about urbanization, fears of 'physical deterioration' and attempts to inculcate citizenship. First it uses the Lancet to trace continuities and changes in medical opinion about the dangers of smoking for both adults and children. Secondly, the article examines the place of juvenile smoking in debates about 'physical deterioration' and considers the history of one anti-smoking organization, the International Anti-Cigarette League. Thirdly it traces attempts to legislate on the question of juvenile smoking, and it notes that while the Children's Act of 1908 prohibited the sale of tobacco to children, smoking continued to have an important place in the stereotype of working-class youth. The article concludes that in the period 1880-1914, smoking linked both physical and moral concerns about working-class children and adolescents, and suggests that citizenship continued to be an important theme in health education.