The opium wars revisited as US forces tobacco exports in Asia

Am J Public Health. 1990 Jun;80(6):659-62. doi: 10.2105/ajph.80.6.659.


The tobacco industry has lobbied successfully to obtain the support of the United States government for opening Asian Markets to American tobacco products. This paper comments on two issues arising from these efforts: the development of an atmosphere of invasion and resistance to invasion in Asia; and the change in the image of the United States in Asian nations from that of a leader in health to that of an exporter of death. The threat of sanctions and the effects of the open market and United States tobacco company advertising in Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea are noted. Parallels are drawn between the opium wars a century and a half ago in China and the current threat of trade sanctions. Reacting to American policy, an Asia-Pacific Association for Control of Tobacco has been formed and linked with the US Coalition Against Smoking.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Asia, Southeastern
  • Commerce / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Commerce / trends*
  • Humans
  • Industry*
  • Nicotiana*
  • Opium*
  • Plants, Toxic*
  • United States


  • Opium