In the USA, the development of the mass production techniques that enabled the mass manufacture of cigarettes in the 1880s coincided with an intense focus on the civic qualities and capacities of the nation's male youth. As the popularity of the cigarette grew, especially among urban youth, so too did concerns that the habit was crippling the physical, mental and moral faculties required of the good citizen. To date, the few histories that have tackled the nation's earliest anti-cigarette campaigns have focused on the various legislative enactments designed to regulate the sale and use of the 'little white slaver'. While incredibly important, these studies have passed over the important and ancillary role of education campaigns that sought to structure the way American youth conceived of the cigarette and the risks of cigarette smoking. In this article, I explore one of the nation's first mass-mediated anti-cigarette campaigns, conducted through the pages of the nation's most popular youth periodical - the Youth's Companion - to show how central ideas of citizenship were to early efforts to shape the ways American youth negotiated the mass market and one of its most nefarious products. © The Author(s) 2013.