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Sinners and Saints - Part 11

Vice and Reform in Kansas

Kansas SmokeLess Kids 
demonstrating at the Capitol, 2000.

Kansas Reformed?

The definition of what qualifies as a vice has shifted over time.

Smoking, once viewed as a vice, later came to be considered simply a bad habit. Most still consider it a bad habit but with serious health consequences. Recreational drugs, increasingly widespread today, are illegal in the United States. Is it possible that one day they too will be considered just a bad habit or fad?

Modern citizens have a variety of government organizations to help them deal with issues related to drinking, smoking, gambling, and prostitution. However, reforms led by churches, neighborhood organizations, and schools continue to play a role as they take on more responsibility to improve their communities.

Private organizations like the Kansas SmokeLess Kids Initiative attempt to reduce abuses among the population. In 2000, teens in this group rallied at the Capitol to confirm their pledge not to smoke (top, right; photo courtesy of Topeka Capital-Journal).

  • Do you feel strongly enough about vice to lobby for change? 
  • What kinds of reform would make your neighborhood or city a better place?
  • Who should lead such reforms?


This concludes the Kansas Museum of History's online exhibit Sinners and Saints: Vice and Reform in Kansas.

  1. A Moral and Pure Society - Creating better communities was the goal.
  2. Alcohol - The politics behind alcohol reform.
  3. Agitate, Educate, Organize! - Women's role in prohibition laws.
  4. Gambling - Betting men took money away from their families.
  5. Gambling Timeline - Kansas issues.
  6. Prostitution - Seen as threatening the moral fabric of society.
  7. Prostitution Timeline - Kansas issues.
  8. Smoking - Cigarettes were believed to corrupt youth.
  9. Smoking Timeline - Kansas and U.S. issues.
  10. Vice in the 20th and 21st Centuries - They're still vices, but now the issue is health.
  11. Kansas Reformed? - The definition of "vice" has shifted over time.

Contact us at kshs.kansasmuseum@ks.gov