Back in 1911, Imogene Rechtin led a campaign against kissing, as leader of the World's Health Organization (which, to clarify, had nothing to do with the UN's World Health Organization, founded in 1948). Her followers wore buttons that read, "Kiss Not." One newspaper at the time remarked, "Judging by the facial features of the presidentess of the cult appearing in the public prints, she is immune without wearing the button."
Cincinnati, Feb. 18 — The World's Health Organization is waging a bitter war against kissing, arguing that the practice is a menace to health. The president of the organization, Mrs. Imogene Rechtin, says that, for instance, the germs of consumption are spread by kissing. The organization has had buttons with the words "Kiss not" imprinted therein, which signify that the wearer is a member of the organization and absolutely refuses to impress his lips against another's. Mrs. Rechtin says: "The work of the World's Health Organization is to show the people that the health of our nation demands that we protect ourselves. Do not kiss sick people. In the case of smallpox the disease shows quickly after infection has taken place, but in consumption it does not, therefore do not kiss any one. You are not sure by looking at a person whether he has consumption or not. He may not know it himself. Sometimes he is able to attend to his regular duties till the last. If with the expenditure of $30,000,000, as was spent last year to conquer consumption, to say nothing of the heartaches for the loved ones gone forever, we could say we are now rid of the disease then the crusade against it would die a natural death, but with all this expenditure we are still in the midst of it. We must be more active, more earnest, go to the source of the supply and stop passing the disease from one to another with our mouths." The pledge of the organization reads as follows: "In order to encourage good health and lessen the spread of consumption I desire to join the World's Health Organization and hereby pledge myself to discourage the custom of kissing on the lips whenever it is in my power."
Category: Hygiene | 1910s