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Understanding CantonRethinking Popular Culture in the Republican Period$
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Virgil Ho

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199282715

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0199282714.001.0001

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The ‘Problem’ of Opium Smoking in Canton

The ‘Problem’ of Opium Smoking in Canton

(p.95) 3 The ‘Problem’ of Opium Smoking in Canton
Understanding Canton

Virgil K.Y. Ho

Oxford University Press

Both the causes of opium consumption, and the allegedly calamitous social, political, economic, and cultural impact of opium smoking on Cantonese society were greatly exaggerated in official propaganda and scholarly writings. Opium served Canton and its urban inhabitants many positive social, cultural, economic, and political purposes, making it difficult to over-simplify the phenomenon of opium smoking as nothing but pernicious.

Keywords:   opium, medicinal values, addiction, legalization, anti-opium rhetoric, leisure, revenue

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