On 7th May 1956 Health Minister R.H. Turton rejected calls for a Government campaign against smoking as not proved as a causal link between lung cancer. In June 1957 a link was accepted.
Today in 1965 the Labour government announced a ban on TV cigarette adverts, after a link between smoking and disease was assumed in 1957 and smoking has been under attack ever since.
By the end of the 17thc tobacco originally a luxury had become so popular that there were 7,000 tobacconists in London and tobacco had become a cure all for maladies such as VD, migraine and the plague.
On Columbus’s second voyage American Indians had been seen sniffing strange powder and the snuff habit caught on, also drinking a tobacco-concoction medicinally was thought to be cure for pox.
John Rolfe who married the Indian Pocahontas, had developed local tobacco and was given the import monopoly in the new colony of America.
The first report of smoking in England is of a sailor seen ‘emitting smoke from his nostrils’, in 1556. It was a Frenchman Jean Nicot from whose name ‘Nicotine’ is derived who introduced tobacco to France in 1560 and it was from France not the New World that tobacco reached England. The term ‘smoking’ is of the late 17th, previously it was known as ‘drinking smoke’.
It was Raleigh’s patronage in the 17thc which helped to spread the habit of smoking and was to be one more indictment of James I (VI) for the Scot’s King could not bear the ‘noxious weed’ and wrote a tract ‘A Counterblast to Tobacco’.
This attitude was surprising as tobacco was another profitable product of Empire available for taxation and which by the 17thc its use had spread in England and Holland much to the benefit of the English Colony of Virginia.
The active ingredient of tobacco is nicotine an alkaloid which is one of the naturally occurring tobacco smoke compounds and containing mostly basic nitrogen atoms.(1)
In a bid to give up cigarettes the practice of ‘vaping’ using electronic cigarettes containing Nicotine ‘E- Liquids’, has become the fashion which avoids inhalation of deleterious tobacco smoke, but still supplies the Nicotine many crave.
(1) Nicotine comes from the Nightshade Family and is present in potatoes and tomatoes with many finding whilst smoking it aided concentration and clearness of memory whilst reducing anxiety. Research is investigating its possible beneficial effects on Parkinson Disease.
Daily Mail. 15.4.2017 article on beneficial use of tobacco in medicine/Pic.
King James I (VI) wrote a tract against ‘the noxious weed’ in A Counterblast to Tobacco’. ‘Smoking is ‘hatefull to the Nose, harmefull to the braine, dangerous to the Lungs, and in the blacke stinking fume thereof, neerest resembling the horrible Stigian smoke of the pit that is bottomless’ (sic): .
Au contraire Today in 1896, James Payn commented in the Illustrated London News that ‘nothing lubricates the wheels of business so much as tobacco’.
He went on: ‘In old-fashioned establishments, of course, it is still forbidden, being supposed to be somehow disreputable. But the custom is growing in the City’.
It was Walter Raleigh’s patronage in the late 16thc which helped to spread the habit of smoking and was to be one more indictment of the King against Raleigh who was to be executed for treason for supporting a rival for the throne.
Tobacco had become the mainstay of the Virginian Colony’s economy developed by John Rolfe who was later rewarded with a monopoly of its trading to Britain and Holland.(1)
So it is surprising that the King didn’t do all he could to benefit from this trade, of ‘drinking smoke’, instead of expressing his personal dislikes.
Smoking in the 18thc was so highly regarded as health promoting, that pupils at Eton were obliged to smoke before breakfast and Tom Rogers, ‘was never whipped so much in his life as he was one morning for not ‘smoaking’, according to the ‘Etonianan Ancient and Modern’.
Then in Fosebrooke’s History of Gloucester (1819) there is reference to the grammar school children ‘carrying pipes in their satchels (with their books), which mothers took care to fill, that it might serve as breakfast’.
‘At the accustomed hour, everyone laid aside his books and lit his pipe, the master smoking with them’.
Whilst bearing in mind the social and health implications there is no doubt that over the centuries tobacco has given much pleasure to millions, and servicemen in two world wars relied heavily on the ‘noxious’weed’ for comfort.
In the latter 20thc smokers were under attack from complainants of passive smoking, without any evidence, and were banned from pubs and public spaces on July 1st 2007.
However those desirous of separating themselves from tobacco can now get their nicotine boost from electronic cigarettes-smoking has become ‘vaping’-supported by the medical profession, it at least gives an alternative ‘displacement activity’ to glancing at smart phones.
(1) Rolfe had married the Indian Pocahontas.
The active ingredient of tobacco is nicotine, an alkaloid which is one of naturally occurring compounds containing mostly basic nitrogen atoms.(1)
The first report of smoking in England is of a sailor seen ‘emitting smoke from his nostrils’, in 1556. The term ‘smoking comes from the late 17thc, and previously known as ‘drinking smoke’.
By 1878 the hazards of smoking were outlined in a letter Today, in the London Times, from the Chief Physician to The Metropolitan Free Hospital, Dr Charles R. Drysdale.
As well as reviewing, as understood then, all the medical consequences, he concluded: ‘the use of tobacco is one of the most evident of all retrograde influences of our time, it invades all classes, destroys social life-turning Europe into a cigar divan’.(2)
Late 16thc imports helped to popularize tobacco smoking, resulting in the anonymous tract by King James I (VI of Scotland): ‘A Counterblast to Tobacco’.
However this went against our economic interests as our new colony of Virginia, was now supplying not just Britain but also Holland, thus competing against the Spanish trade.
Then like all hypocrites, James became not averse to acquiring the monopoly of the Virginian import trade, when he was suffering ‘financial constraints’.
By the end of the 17thc, tobacco originally a luxury, had become so popular, there were 7,000 tobacconists in London, when it was assumed as a ‘cure-all’ for maladies such as VD, migraine and the plague.
By Victorian times we see separate smoking compartments on trains and in public houses (Smoke Rooms): upper class men, in smoking-jackets, retired to their libraries.
In the 20thc Alan Herbert (APH), writing in Punch Magazine, parodied the patronising and negative, medics, reflecting that the first instinct of institutions is repression. ‘Giving up smoking would ruin our nerves and make us incapable of honest toil’, he wrote
Most of the great novels and music might never have been written but for the ‘weed’. Britain could not have resisted invasion but for the symbolic Churchill cigar, and where would the troops have been without a ‘fag break’.
The unsmiling Puritans never take the holistic approach; have they ever considered the millions who need something to get through the day? The biggest problem in society is not nicotine, but something infinitely more dangerous!
On a personal note this Author is wont to get his best ideas through the cool, blue, haze of pipe smoke, whilst sitting in his den outside.
(1) It was a Frenchman Jean Nicot from which ‘nicotine’ is derived. He introduced tobacco to France in 1560 and it was from there, not the New World, that tobacco first reached England.
(2) Drysdale (1829-1907) also wrote, The Life of Thomas Malthus, as well as books on syphilis and the Evils of Prostitution.
Ref: victorianweb.org/periodical/punch/railway/Image of cartoon.
On Columbus’s second voyage, he found American Indians sniffing a strange powder (snuff). They also drank a tobacco-concoction medicinally, thought to be a cure for pox.