Image via Omesh Hirani

The Woman Who Waged A War Against Kissing

One activist once made a serious attempt to get people to stop kissing in the interest of public health

Andrew Martin
3 min readApr 21, 2022


There are just some causes that totally resonate with people. They either validate or perfectly align with their values and become something they will defend to the end. Some of these issues are a little more controversial, including the all-out war on kissing one woman named Imogene Rechtin waged more than 100 years ago.

A common practice in society is kissing, and in 1911, this act of affection was the focus of an all out war. Imogene Rechtin of Cincinnati was the leader of the World’s Health Organization (No affiliation to the current worldwide organization) and determined that smooching was one of the great ignored dangers in the world. Specifically, she believed that germs were easily spread and one of the best vehicles for this was through a kiss, especially as it related to consumption (Tuberculosis).

Rechtin explained why in her opinion kissing needed to be immediately banned:

“The work of the World’s Health Organization is to show the people that the health of the 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 anyone. 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… We must be more active, more earnest, go to the source of the supply and stop passing the disease from one another with our mouths.”

To help spread word of their cause, the group handed out buttons adorned with the phrase “Kiss Not.”

When new members joined the movement against kissing, the organization utilized an official pledge for them to use as a guiding principle:

“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.”



Andrew Martin

Dabbler in history, investing & writing. Master’s degree in baseball history. Passionate about history, diversity, culture, sports, investing and crypto.