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Book Explores China's Tobacco Industry, Impact on Health

Carol Benedict Book


April 19, 2011 – Carol Benedict, an associate professor at the School of Foreign Service, examines China’s large but mostly forgotten industry of cheap, hand-rolled cigarettes and the illnesses related to smoking.

Her new book, Golden-Silk Smoke: A History of Tobacco in China, 1550-2010 (University of California Press, 2011), covers late 16th century imperial China through the modern-day republic.

“By the end of the 20th century, China had successfully vanquished most infectious diseases but was increasingly confronting many ‘ailments of affluence’ such as heart disease, diabetes and lung cancer,” the professor says.

Benedict, whose research focuses on the history of health and disease in Asia, says she was compelled to write the book after recognizing that nearly one-third of the world’s smokers – more than 320 million – live in China.

Benedict will use her book and much of her research during fall of 2011 in a new course, Global Health, Disease and History in Asia.
“This class will examine particular challenges of global health, including the current epidemic of smoking-related illness, within the historical and cultural settings of India and China.”

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