Welcome to the book, The Use of Tobacco: Its Physical, Intellectual, and Moral Effects on The Human System, by William A. Alcott, M.D. (1836, 1848).
That year, a medical survey of nicotine poisoning deaths was published. "Death occurred in nearly all of the cases of nicotine poisoning within a few minutes to a few hours . . . ."—Julia Fontanelle, 2 Jour. de Chimie Med. 652 (1836).
Tobacco pushers and their accessories conceal the breadth of tobacco effects, the enormity of the tobacco holocaust, and the long record of documentation.
The concealment process is called the "tobacco taboo." Other pertinent words are "censorship" and "disinformation."
Here is the text by William A. Alcott, M.D. (1798-1859), of an early exposé (1836) of tobacco dangers. It cites facts you don't normally ever see, including the tobacco-crime link, due to the "tobacco taboo."
The phrase "tobacco taboo" is the term for the pro-tobacco censorship policy—to not report most effects of tobacco.
As you will see, information about the tobacco danger was already being circulated in 1836, 128 years before the famous 1964 Surgeon General Report. Be prepared.
The Use of Tobacco: Its
Physical, Intellectual, and Moral
Effects on The Human System,
by William A. Alcott M.D.,
(New York: Fowler and Wells, 1836, 1876 ed.)
|II.—History of Tobacco||8|
|III.—Tobacco and the Teeth||9|
|IV.—Injury to the Voice||13|
|V.—Injury of the Senses||15|
|VI.—Its Effects on the Appetite||19|
|VII.—It Destroys Digestion||20|
|VII.—It Produces Thirst||23|
|IX.—Leads to Intemperance||25|
|X.—Leads to Various Diseases||28|
|XI.—Slavery to Tobacco||41|
|XII.—Injury to the Intellect||52|
|XIII.—Its Immoral Tendency||57|
|XIV.—Its Effects on Religion||60|
|XVI.—Who Suffer Most from Tobacco||75|
|XVII.—Waste of Property Involved||77|
|XVIII.—Means of Reformation||81|
INTEMPERANCE and disease, like the ocean, have their tributary streams—some of greater, others of less magnitude and importance. Seldom, if indeed ever, does the individual break out an inebriate or a sick man at once. A long train of causes often intervene, like the long train of fountains and rills and rivers between the ocean and its sources.
Among the larger, more efficient tributaries to the ocean of Intemperance, is Tobacco. I here refer to all the varied forms in which it is used, whether in chewing, smoking, or snuffing. This source of intemperance is, moreover, greatly increasing, especially in our cities, towns and villages, and in our seminaries of learning.
Let it be understood, however, that, in what I am about to say on the subject of Tobacco I
shall have reference, principally, to its use by the healthy. With its prescription for medicinial purposes, or its application in art or manufacture, I have at present, almost as little to do, as with opium, or calomel, or fermented or distilled liquors.
Let it not be thought, however, that I entertain the slightest unkind feelings towards the habitual [addicted] devourer of tobacco, in any of its forms. The slave [addict] of tobacco, like him who is enslaved to the use of rum, opium, coffee or tea, is, in my view, a diseased person. Shall we come down in vengeance upon the sick? So did not He, by whose worthy name most of us are called. Let us rather, like him, compassionate the diseased and enslaved of every sort; and, as far as may be in our power, afford them relief. We may not, it is true, be able to exorcise the evil spirits by a word; but we should, at least, do all in our power. Our words, though not such as our Lord's were, may scatter light and truth; our deeds, though unlike His, may be deeds of love and may console, encourage and elevate. Only let us, in all we say and do, be governed by the great law of kindness.
Let me not even be suspected of a disposition to be severe on particular classes of men [people],
any more than on individuals. My simple purpose is, to speak of both individuals and classes just as much as the nature of the case appears to require, and no more; but not to shrink from that exposure which is necessary, merely to court the favor of any individual, class or caste. It is the evils of tobacco at which I aim, and not the person--man, woman or child--who uses it, however degraded [addicted] he may be. Indeed, the more degraded a person is, in my view, the more tender ought we to be of the little reputation which remains to him.
Yes, degraded the slave of tobacco certainly i; deeply so. "Were it possible," says Dr. [Benjamin] Rush, "for a being who had resided on our globe, to visit the inhabitants of a planet where reason governed, and to tell them that a vile weed was in use among the inhabitants of the globe he had left, which afforded no nourishment; that this weed was cultivated with immense care; that it was an important article of commerce; that the want [lack] of it produced real misery [withdrawal symptoms]; that its taste was extremely nauseous; that it was unfriendly to health and morals, and that the use of it was attended with a considerable loss of time and property,--
the account would be thought incredible." "In no one view," continues Dr. R., " is it possible to contemplate the creature, man, in a more absurd and ridiculous light, than in his attachment to tobacco."
The history of this plant has been so faithfully presented to the public eye, especially by Dr. [Reuben D.] Mussey [1780-1866], in a pamphlet he has written on the subject, that it will hardly be necessary to enter upon it here. It is with its effects, principally—its physical and moral bearings—that I have to do. I shall dwell, moreover, on matters of fact, rather than advance the theories or speculations of my own mind, or of the minds of others. My object is to enlighten and instruct, and not merely to excite or amuse.
There is, however, one fact connected with the history of tobacco, in our own country, which I am unwilling to pass over in silence. In the year 1620, when the colony at Jamestown, in Virginia, had been established about thirteen years, a great want was felt of female aid, not only to soften the asperity of manners in a society composed wholly of males, but to
give stability to the colony, by encouraging the domestic or family institution. Ninety females, of respectable character, (as far as appears,) but of humble fortune, were imported from England, and sold to the planters at Jamestown, for wives, at the rate of 120 lbs. of tobacco, valued at fifty cents a pound, for each individual so purchased. During the next year, 1621, sixty or seventy more were sent over and sold for the same commodity, but the price had been advanced by the London Company to 150 lbs. a head. The first slavery, therefore, in Virginia, was the slavery of whites, of the wife to herhusband; and the first exportation of tobacco was for this singular purpose of purchasing companions for life.
The opinion is greatly prevalent, that, whatever may be the other effects of tobacco, it certainly preserves the teeth, especially when chewed. Common, however, and even plausible, as the opinion is, it is not difficult to show that it is very far from having its foundation in fact.
The soundness of teeth will always bear an
exact proportion to the soundness and firmness of the gums, and of the lining membrane of the mouth, and the whole alimentary canal. But, that tobacco makes the gums loose and spongy, and injures the lining membrane of the alimentary canal, especially that part of it called the stomach, is as well attested as any fact in physiology. The application of tobacco, therefore, to the inside of the mouth and to the gums—if the foregoing principle is correct—instead of preserving the teeth, cannot otherwise than hasten their decay.
And so, in point of fact, we find it. The teeth of those who use tobacco are in a less perfect state than those of other people—I mean those whose habits are no worse than theirs in other respects. For there are many more things which injure teeth as well as tobacco; and it would be unfair to compare the tobacco-chewer, whose habits may be correct in other respects, with those individuals, who, though they use no tobacco, are yet addicted to gluttony or drunkenness, or have had their teeth spoiled by poisonous medicines.
The teeth of some tobacco-chewers, it is true, do not ache; for the tobacco, at least for a time, stupifies the nerves. Nor are there want-
ing cases, here and there, of old tobacco-chewers, whose teeth, so far as they are not worn out, are free from decay. But such cases are as rare as those of long-lived or healthy intemperance; and they prove just nothing in favor of tobacco. They simply show that the individuals who thus held out, had strong constitutions, with no hereditary tendency to diseases of the alimentary canal or the teeth, and, that if, in spite of the tobacco, their teeth were comparatively perfect, they would have been still more so, had they wholly abstained from it.
But there is one thing to be observed in the case of those who chew tobacco, even when the teeth do not really decay: they wear out very fast. Dr. Mussey has verified the truth of this position, not only by observing the mouths of "some scores of individuals in our own communities," but likewise those of "several individuals belonging to the Seneca and St. Francois tribes of Indians, who, like most of the other North American tribes, are much addicted to the use of this narcotic."*
I have, myself, observed the same thing even in the case of those tobacco-chewers who boasted of their sound
teeth, and of freedom from tooth-ache. I have seen them so worn down as actually to project but a little way beyond the gums. In the part of the mouth in which the cud is kept, this wearing out or wasting away is more obvious than in other parts.
Dr. [Benjamin]Rush [1746-1813] mentions a man in Philadelphia who lost all his teeth by smoking. Dr. [Joseph] Warren [1741-1775], of Boston, assures us, that not only the common belief of tobacco being beneficial to the teeth is entirely erroneous, but that, by its poisoning and relaxing qualities, it is positively injurious to them. And such, it is believed, is the general opinion of medical men, not only in this country, but in Europe.
But, granting the most which can be claimed for tobacco in the way of preserving teeth—grant that it benumbs the nerves, and thus, in many instances, prevents pain—grant even, that it occasionally precludes all other decay, except that premature wearing out, of which I have spoken. Still, the general truth will remain, that it injures the gums and the lining membrane of the mouth, stomach, and alimentary canal generally, and, in fact, of the lungs also; and thus, not only prepares the way for various diseases, (to be mentioned hereafter,) but spoils
the beauty, injures the soundness, and hastens the decay of these organs. It was, no doubt, the intention of the Creator, that the teeth should last as long as their owner. Yet, in how few of a thousand tobacco-chewers, or smokers, or snuff-takers is this the result?
"Tobacco, when used in the form of snuff," says Dr. Rush, "seldom fails of impairing the voice, by obstructing the air." The truth of this remark, though made about half a century ago, we see verified in the case of thousands of public speakers. It is not the snuff-taker alone, however, who injures his voice by tobacco, though the injury which he sustains may be most immediate and severe. By the dryness of the nasal membrane, which chewing and smoking produce, these vile habits have a similar effect.
The smoke of the tobacco contains many fine particles of the weed itself, which lodge in the passages. Who does not know how soon smoke of any kind, especially tobacco smoke, will darken or blacken a white surface? Yet, how could it darken it, except by depositing its fine dust upon it? And is the
lining membrane of the nasal passages less likely to receive the dark, filthy, poisonous deposit than any other surface? Do we wonder, then, why the voice should be affected when the hollow nasal cavities are converted into so many flues of a sooty chimney?*
Dr. Allen, of Maine, says: "That tobacco is injurious to the voice, every one can testify, who has heard the harsh, thick, husky, mumbling, stammering, insonorous voice of the inveterate tobacco-chewer."
Dr. Woodward, of the State Hospital for the Insane, at Worcester, is decidedly of the same opinion. He, however, goes much further than Dr. Mussey or Dr. Alien, and attempts to show,
from his strong cases and facts, that one frequent cause of permanent loss of voice in modern times, by public speakers, especially clergymen, is owing to the use of tobacco, in some of its forms. How far he is correct, in the latter opinion, is a point, which, in my own view, remains to be settled; though, of his general views of the injurious tendency of using tobacco daily, there can be no reasonable doubt.
Of the injury of the senses by tobacco, there can be as little reasonable doubt as of the injury done to the voice by the same agent. A substance so powerful, whether in its more solid form, or in that of powder or smoke, cannot be applied to membranes in the region of the eyes, ears, nose and brain, day after day, and year after year, without seriously affecting them.
It injures the taste. Who has not observed the dull taste of the tobacco-chewer? "Nothing insipid," says the Journal of Health* "can be
relished, after the mouth and throat have been exposed to the stimulus of the juice or smoke of tobacco."
The tobacco-chewer and smoker may, it is true, be unconscious of any change in themselves; but this will not alter the matter of fact. Plain food soon becomes tiresome to them, and therefore it is usual to add a large amount of salt or other seasoning. Water, also, and even fruit, to the taste which is depraved by tobacco, soon become insipid; and not a few reject fruit altogether
Tobacco impairs the smell. Some continue the use of this poisonous substance, till they can hardly smell at all. Perhaps snuff is more injurious to the sense of smell than tobacco. The Journal of Health says that the use of snuff destroys entirely the sense of smell, as well as injures the tone of the voice; while chewing and smoking vitiate the sense of taste. It is added, moreover, that those who make use of tobacco to any extent, have one and frequently two of their senses less perfect for it. Snuff-takers, it is insisted, are peculiarly liable to polypus in the nose.
a nation of smokers, is proverbially a spectacled nation. But, even among ourselves, the connection between the use of tobacco and defective or impaired vision, is sufficiently obvious.
Finally, it injures the hearing. This is so common a consequence of snuff-taking, that I need but to mention it. That chewing and smoking tobacco have the same tendency, only in a slighter degree, there can be no doubt; but, to show why it must be so, would lead us far away into the world of anatomy and physiology.
Of the sense of touch, as affected by the use of tobacco, I am able to say but little. I will barely observe, that, in reasoning from analogy, we should be led to a suspicion of tobacco, even here. But, perhaps it is sufficient to impair our confidence in it, that I have shown it to be injurious, in a greater or less degree, to at least four or five of the senses.
Dr. [Reuben D.] Mussey [1780-1866] mentions the case of a Mr. Cummings, in Plymouth, N. H., who, though he enjoyed, at the age of twenty, the best of health, except weak eyes, commenced the use of snuff, and afterward, at the age of twenty-five, resorted to chewing and smoking. In this way he went on, for thirty years, till he was nearly de-
stroyed. It is true, that he thought himself, all this while, remarkably temperate, though it is quite obvious that a moderate use of tobacco in each of the three usual forms, may have been equivalent to a free [Ed. Note: repetitive] use of any one of them.
"The effects on his senses were striking. At the age of fifty-five, he could not read a word in any book without spectacles; and he had already been in the use of them several years. He had also been subject to a ringing and deafness in both ears for ten years, and at times the right ear was entirely deaf."
In about a month after quitting his snuff (which was the last thing he gave up,) his hearing became correct, and none of his troubles with this organ ever returned. It was many months, however, before he could dispense with his spectacles; but he finally got rid of them. At sixty-three, his senses were keener, especially his eyesight, than those of most men of his age. Being a surveyor, he was able to keep his minutes without spectacles; though, when obliged to use his eyes many hours in succession, particularly in the evening, he found his "glasses" quite convenient.
snuff, is evident, from the fact that neither at the time of his abandoning these stimulants, nor subsequently, did he make any other change in his habits. He had always been what is usually called temperate in other things.
It has already been shown, that the use of tobacco, in any form, injures the sense of taste. Now, it is a general rule, that whatever injures or impairs the taste, tends also to impair the appetite. But we have direct and positive testimony on this part of our subject.
The "Journal of Health" says, that those who use tobacco experience, at intervals, a want of appetite. Dr. Rush says expressly, "It impairs the appetite."
The testimony of those who have the care of our prisons and penitentiaries, is, that the inmates, most of whom have been habituated to using tobacco before they come there, have their appetite increased in a few days by quitting the use of it. Is not this equivalent to admitting that the previous use of it had impaired the appetite? Many of the facts or cases presented in Dr.
Mussey's  pamphlet, are to the same general effect.
There is extant an anecdote of Gov. John Hancock [1737-1793], which is much to my present purpose. To avoid the necessity of throwing off his saliva in good company—for he was a gentleman tobacco-chewer—he acquired the strange habit of swallowing it, which, in the end, almost destroyed his appetite, and, as is stated by Gov. Sullivan, increased the severity of those attacks of gout to which he was subject, and hastened his death.
On this point, we have testimony still mere ample than on the former. Dr. Stephenson, in an essay read before the "Society for the Promotion of Knowledge" in New York, observes,
"It is a mistake to suppose that smoking aids digestion. The very
uneasiness which it were desirable to remove, is occasioned either by tobacco itself, or by some other means. If tobacco facilitates digestion, how comes it that after laying aside the habitual use of it, most individuals experience an increase of appetite and of digestive energy, and an accumulation of flesh."He also says,
"I knew a boy of eight years of age, whose father had taught him the use of the tobacco-cud, four years before. He was a pale, thin, sickly child, and often vomited up his dinner."On another occasion he says,
"Physicians meet with thousands of cases of dyspepsia connected with the use of tobacco in some one of its forms."
Dr. Rush says, "It produces dyspepsia." Again he says, "It prevents the early and complete digestion of the food." Again, in another place, "It imparts to the complexion a disagreeable dusky color." This change of color, we may be certain, had something to do with derangement of the liver, and of the biliary system generally; but this state of things always involves or presupposes more or less of indigestion.
Dr. Cullen says, "I have found all the symptoms of dyspepsia produced by snuffing
The dependence of the disease on the snuff was perfectly evident."
Dr. Hosack, late of New York, says, "That the recent great increase of dyspepsia anong us is attributable in part to the use of tobacco." Prof. Hitchcock says, "It excites indigestion." The "Journal of Health" says, "that most, if not all, of those who are accustomed to the use of tobacco, labor under dyspeptic symptoms." Dr. [A.] McAllister, of Utica, says of the habitual and habitually suffering smoker, that "he pursues a course which continues to weaken the organs of digestion and assimilation, and, at length, plunges him into all the accumulated horrors of dyspepsia." Dr. Stephenson says, "that, from the sympathy subsisting between the olfactories and the nerves of the stomach, the use of snuff has, in some instances, produced dyspepsia."
Authorities on this subject might be multiplied, were it desirable or necessary, to almost any extent. But, however far this were carried, and however numerous the cases presented, the slave of tobacco would still say in his heart, "All this testimony, and all these facts and cases are nothing to me. For, though my case may be a peculiar one, I know cer-
tainly, if I know any thing, that tobacco, instead of hurting my digestion, greatly helps it."
Riding in a stage-coach, not long since, with a young man of twenty, and of general good sense and habits, I found him in the full belief that he could not possibly digest his dinner till he had followed it by a cud of tobacco; and I have no doubt of his sincerity.—Now, can it be that God so made the stomach that it cannot do its appointed work till aided by a cud of tobacco, a pipe or cigar, or a snuff-box?
But the worst forms and degrees of tobacco-slavery have not yet been adverted to. There are those among us, who honestly think that they cannot digest a meal till they have swallowed a quantity of the very juice of the tobacco. The case of Gov. Hancock has been already mentioned; to which might be added that of Mr. John Benson, a merchant in Boston, and several individuals, details of whose cases are tto be found in the writings of Dr. [Benjamin] Rush [1746-1813].
He who uses tobacco habitually, in any of its forms, is often apt to be thirsty. And this circumstance alone renders tobacco suspicious.
Those things which are most proper for the human stomach, and best adapted to the system generally, do not produce much thirst.
Is proof demanded on this point? Most unhappily for humanity it is at hand. The thirst of which I am speaking, is, most undoubtedly, a morbid or diseased thirst, but this does not render it the less real.
Dr. [Reuben D.] Mussey [1780-1866], in his writings, alludes frequently to this morbid thirst as induced by tobacco. He also assures us of smoking, that it produces a huskiness of the mouth. Dr. Rush says, "One of the usual effects of smoking and chewing"—he might have said, of snuff-taking too—"is thirst." "This thirst cannot be allayed by water, for no sedative, or even insipid liquor, will be relished after the mouth and throat have been exposed to the stimulus of the smoke or the use of tobacco." Here, I repeat it, is the strongest indirect testimony we could possibly have of the unnatural or unhealthy character of tobacco; for, a thirst which pure water will not quench, can never be any other than a diseased one.
Dr. Brown, of West Randolph, in Vermont, says, "The use of tobacco produces a dryness or huskiness of the mouth; thus creating a
thirst which in many cases is not satiated with any thing short of alcoholic drinks." But, a thirst which is not satisfied with any thing short of alcoholic drinks, cannot be a very desirable if, indeed, it were a healthy one.
The Report of the "New York Anti-Tobacco Society," for the year 1835—written, it is believed, by Dr. Stephenson—is to the same effect "Chewing and smoking tobacco," the Report says, "exhaust the salivary glands of their secretions; thus producing dryness and thirst. Hence it is, that after the use of the cigar and the cud, brandy, whiskey, or some other spirit is called for."
The testimony of the New York Anti-Tobacco Society just quoted, is as strongly in favor of the opinion that the use of tobacco leads to intemperance, as that it produces thirst. The Report even adds, that, "by rendering water and all simple drinks insipid, it creates an appetite for strong drinks."
Dr. Woodward says, "I have supposed that tobacco was the most ready and common stepping-stone to that use of spiritous liquors
which leads to intemperance. Those who chew or smoke tolacco, are rarely satisfied with water or other insipid or tasteless drinks; else why should the bar-room and the grog-shop be the resort of the smoker?"
Dr. [Reuben D.] Mussey [1780-1866]:—"In the practice of smoking, there is no small danger. It produces a huskiness of the mouth, which calls for some liquid. Water is too insipid, as the nerves of taste are in a half-palsied state, from the influence of tobacco smoke; hence, in order to be tasted, an article of a pungent or stimulating character is resorted to, and hence, the kindred habits of smoking and drinking.
"A desire is excited," says Dr. Rush, while speaking of the effects of both smoking and chewing, "for strong drinks; and these, when taken between meals, soon lead to intemperance and drunkenness. One of the greatest sots I ever knew, acquired the love of ardent spirits by swallowing cuds of tobacco, which he did to escape detection in the use of it; for he had acquired the habit of chewing contrary to the advice and commands of his father." He also says, "the practice of smoking cigars has been followed by the use of brandy and water as a common drink."
Mr. [Orin S.] Fowler [1791-1852], of Fall River, in his "Disquisition on the Evils of Tobacco" [Providence: S. R. Weeden, 1833], insists strongly on the natural connection between tobacco and exciting drinks; and fortifies his opinion by the authority, among others, of Dr. Agnew, Gov. Sullivan, and a writer in the Genius of Temperance.
The editors of the Journal of Health take the same ground, and quote their authorities. Among these is Dr. [A.] McAllister, who speaks very freely of tobacco as "paving the way to drunkenness," and of smoking, as being a very frequent precursor of the same evil.
The use of tobacco, says Dr. Stephenson, is one great leading step towards intemperance. But it is a lamentable fact, that very many who stand the most prominent in the temperance reform, are grossly intemperate in the use of tobacco,
My own observation, so far as it goes, would confirm the idea of a connection between tobacco and stimulating drinks. Though there are many honorable exceptions, it is, nevertheless, the general rule that they go together. Or, at least, that he who uses tobacco, in any considerable quantity, will, sooner or later, come to be fond of exciting drinks. Who has not
heard of the eagerness of all savage and babarous people for exciting or stimulating drinks? Yet these same people, almost to an individual, are equally fond of tobacco in all its varied forms.
Tobacco, moreover, is, of itself, an intoxicating substance. Messrs. Arms and Coan, American missionaries to Patagonia, testify of the savages there, that they are not only excessively fond of tobacco, but that they will even get intoxicated by mere smoking. I know the attempt is often made to show that narcotic substances, such as opium, tobacco, coffee, &.c., though exciting or exhilarating, are not really intoxicating. But the distinction which is thus attempted is almost without a difference, and is usually spoken of by those persons to whom it would be quite convenient to have a distinction shown, which, after all, it is more easy to assert than to prove.
But, tobacco not only leads to intemperance—of itself a disease—it both originates and aggravates a great many more of the complaints to which flesh in its fallen estate is heir. This it will now be my object to show.
That tobacco is not only an irritant but a poison—a most virulent one, too—cannot be doubted. The authorities on this subject are exceedingly numerous, and highly respectable.
[Ed. Note: Original had last names only; first
I shall not attempt to follow out and present, in detail, the numerous experiments and opinions of these distinguished men. A few only will be selected. The following are the results of the experiments of Brodie, Vauquelin and Henry.
By the ordinary process of distillation, an alkaline principle, in small quantity, is procured from tobacco, called by chemists, nicotin, as well as an oily substance, called nicotianin. A drop of either of these, but especially of the former, is found sufficient to destroy life in a
dog of moderate size; and two drops destroy the largest and most fierce. Small birds perish at the bare approach of a small tube holding it.
There is another oil procured from tobacco by distilling it at a temperature above that of boiling water, called empyreumatic oil. It is of a dark brown color, and has a smell exactly like that of old and strong tobacco pipes. A drop of it, forced into the lower portion of the intestine of a cat, causes death, in most instances, in about five minutes; and two drops, applied in the same way to a dog, are often followed by a similar result.
The experiments on which these conclusions are based, have been repeated and verified, in this country, by Dr. [Reuben D.] Mussey [1780-1866]. His subjects were dogs, squirrels, cats and mice. The following are among the most important of his experiments:
Two drops of oil of tobacco, placed on the tongue, were sufficient to destroy life in cats which had been brought up, as it were, in the midst of tobacco smoke, in three or four minutes. Three drops, rubbed on the tongue of a full-sized young cat, killed it in less than three minutes. One drop destroyed a half-grown cat in five minutes. Two drops on the
tongue of a red squirrel, destroyed it in one minute. A small puncture made in the tip of the nose with a surgeon's needle, bedewed with the oil of tobacco, caused death in six minutes.
"Dr. [Benjamin] Franklin [1706-1790], ascertained," says Dr. Mussey, "that the oily material which floats on the surface of water after a stream of tobacco smoke has been passed through it, is capable, when applied to the tongue of a cat, of destroying life in a few minutes."
"The Indians of our country," says the Journal of Health, "were well aware of the poisonous effects, and were accustomed to dipping the heads of their arrows in an oil obtained from the leaves of tobacco, which, being inserted into the flesh, occasioned sickness and fainting, or even convulsions and death." "Tobacco," adds the same Journal on another occasion, "is an absolute poison."
But it is not in a concentrated form alone, that tobacco proves poisonous. A very small quantity of the tobacco itself introduced into the system, especially in the case of one wholly unaccustomed to its presence or use, has been known to extinguish life. The moistened leaves, even, when placed over the stomach, have proved fatal. It is related of some sol-
diers in Canada that, when under hard service, they contrived to unfit themselves for duty by placing a moistened leaf of tobacco in the armpit. It caused sickness at the stomach, and general prostration.
Mr. Barrow, the African traveller, assures us that the Hottentots use this plant for destroying snakes. "A Hottentot," says he, "applied some of it from the short end of his wooden pipe, to the mouth of a snake while darting out his tongue. The effect was as instantaneous as that of an electric shock. With a momentary convulsive motion, the snake half untwisted itself, and never stirred more; and its muscles were so contracted that the whole animal felt as hard and rigid as if dried in the sun."*
"The tea of twenty or thirty grains of tobacco," says Dr. [Reuben D.] Mussey [1780-1866], "introduced into the human body for the purpose of relieving spasm, has been known repeatedly to destroy life."
"Tobacco," says Mr. Graham, "is one of the most powerful and deadly poisons in the vegetable kingdom." "Its effects on the living tis-
iues of the animal system," he adds, "are always to destroy life, as the experiments on pigeons, cats, and other animals, abundantly prove."
Dr. Hosack calls tobacco "a fashionable poison." Dr. Stephenson says, "To the practitioner it is well known that a cataplasm of tobacco applied to the region of the stomach, will produce violent and almost uncontrollable vomiting."
Dr. Murray relates the history of three children who were seized with vomiting, vertigo, and profuse perspiration, and died in twenty-four hours, with tremors and convulsions, after having the head rubbed with a liniment made of tobacco, in the hope of freeing them from the scurf.
A case of importance came under my own observation. A strong, and, in general, a robust person, was affected, occasionally, by strangulated hernia. Tobacco, in one instance, being introduced by means of a bladder, quickly restored the strangulated intestine, but the prostration was excessive, and fears were for some time entertained that he could not survive it. He, however, slowly recovered, and lived several years, though he was never afterwards as vigorous as before.
[Matthieu J. B.] Orfila [1787-1853], a French physician, says, that the decoction of a drachm of this drug, given, as in the last mentioned case, by injection, in one instance, produced death. Indeed, the death of the French poet Santa Santeuil, was caused by a thoughtless person's emptying the contents of a snuff-box into his wine. As soon as he had swallowed the draught, he was attacked with excessive pains, violent vomitings, and faintings, of which he died in fourteen hours.
Now, if it be true that tobacco is thus poisonous—to man and all other animals—who could expect it to be used habitually, in any form whatever, without inducing disease? But on this point also we have the most undoubted and ample testimony.
Dr. [Benjamin] Rush [1746-1813] says that even when used moderately, "tobacco causes dyspepsia, headache, tremors, vertigo, and epilepsy." "It produces," he again says, "many of those diseases which are supposed to be seated in the nerves." "I once lost a young man," he adds, "seventeen years of age, of a pulmonary consumption, whose disorder was brought on by smoking cigars."
Dr. Woodward, after presenting a long array of facts showing the tendency of tobacco to
produce disease—apoplexy, aphony, hyochondria, consumption, epilepsy, headache, tremors, vertigo, dyspepsia, cancer, and insanity—concludes with the following inquiry:—
"Who can doubt that tobacco, in each of the various ways in which it has been customarily used, has destroyed more valuable lives, and broken down the health of more useful members of society, than have been sufferers from the complaint in question (bronchitis), up to the present time, or than it ever will be hereafter?"
Dr. Brown, of Providence, says: "The symptoms which are liable to arise from the habitual use of tobacco, whether chewed, smoked, or snuffed, may be any of the following:—dizziness, headache, faintness, pain at the pit of the stomach, weakness, tremulousness, hoarseness of the voice, disturbed sleep, incubus or nightmare, irritability of temper, seasons of mental depression, epileptic fits, and sometimes mental derangement."
"From the habitual use," says Dr. [Reuben D.] Mussey [1780-1866],
"of tobacco in either of its forms, of snuff, cud or cigar, the following symptoms may arise:—a sense of weakness, sinking or pain at the pit of the stomach, dizziness or pain in
the head, occasional dimness or temporary loss of sight, paleness and sallowness of the countenance, and sometimes swelling of the feet, an enfeebled state of the voluntary muscles, manifesting itself sometimes by tremulousness, weakness, squeaking, a hoarseness of the voice, rarely a loss of voice, disturbed sleep, starting from early slumbers with a sense of suffocation, or feeling of alarm, incubus or nightmare, epileptic or convulsive fits, confusion or weakness of the mental faculties, peevishness and irritability of temper, instability of purpose, seasons of great depression of the spirits, long fits of unbroken melancholy and despondency, and in some cases, entire and permanent mental derangement."
The New York Anti-Tobacco Society, after attributing the alarming increase of consumption, dyspepsia, palsy, apoplexy, epilepsy, and the whole train of nervous diseases, in part to the use of tobacco, give the following statements of cases in addition to that of Gov. Hancock, which has been mentioned:
*For which purpose he is said to have had a leather pocket; but for this I am unable to adduce any authority except that of common report.
Prof. Silliman mentions an affecting case of a young student in Yale College, who fell a victim to tobacco. "He entered," says he, "with an athletic frame; but he acquired the habit of using tobacco, and would sit and smoke whole hours together. His friends tried to persuade him to quit the practice, but he loved his lust, and would have it, live or die,—the consequence of which was, he went down to the grave a suicide."
Prof. S. mentions also the case of another young man, in the same instiution, who was sacrificed by the same poisonous weed. Prof. Pond, of the Bangor [Maine] Theological Seminary, relates one or two similar cases of students whom he knew at Andover and elsewhere.
The German physicians state in their periodicals, that, of the deaths occurring among men in that country, between eighteen and thirty-five years of age, one half die from the effects of smoking. They unequivocally assert, that
teeth, the eyes, and the brain."
It has been observed, that the manufacturers of this article carry pale, ghastly countenances, and it is also said that few of them live to old age.
Agriculturists say that it soon poisons the soil on which it
grows, or rather, that it impoverishes the soil more than any other plant in the vegetable kingdom.
By the remark that the manufacturers of tobacco carry pale, ghastly countenances, I am reminded of a child whose case is given by Dr. [Reuben D.] Mussey [1780-1866]. This case certainly favors a very strong suspicion that vast numbers of our race are so much injured by the use of tobacco, as to become sufferers in later life, even where the cause of suffering is quite unsuspected. The case referred to is as follows:
Finally, the use of tobacco not only produces or originates various diseases, but it greatly aggravates the symptoms of those which have their origin in other causes. It also hastens the development of those diseases, to which, by inheritance, we are constitutionally predisposed, but which otherwise might have slumbered. Few things, except, perhaps, ardent spirits, excite those diseases to which we are constitutionally predisposed, more rapidly than chewing and smoking tobacco; and this is a powerful argument against "the formation or continuation of those habits.
XI.—SLAVERY TO TOBACCO.
Prof. Ives, of Yale College, in lecturing to his students on the medicinal properties of tobacco, is accustomed to make a digression on the power of habit. No chains are stronger, he insists, than those in which this tyrant is accustomed to bind his slaves. The tobacco-chewer, as he justly says, will much sooner go without his food, at least for a time, than his tobacco. Custom, he adds, is second nature; and second nature is stronger than first nature.
Among the votaries of this beastly habit within the range of my present acquaintance, are two deacons in the same cnurch. One of them has been, for the last fifteen or twenty years, the victim of dyspepsia, with the whole train of accompanying nervous diseases and symptoms. He is quite conscious that tobacco is the principal, if not the sole cause of his troubles, and yet thinks he cannot break away from the chains that bind him. With such an
example constantly before him, the other individual referred to has been four or five years in the way of reform, and there is reason to hope will not relapse into his former course. His principal security, however, is to be found in a consciousness of his danger, which forever haunts, though it does not distress him. There is the less necessity of trembling for him, because he trembles for himself.
One of the first teachers of youth in our country—a minister of the gospel too—has been from his very youth a slave of tobacco; and in truth a most disgusting one. Yet it seems impossible to reclaim him. My own efforts, and those of Dr. [Reuben D.] Mussey [1780-1866], have at least failed. He will probably go down to the grave in the filth of his tobacco.
Another teacher of high reputation was excessively devoted to snuff-taking. On reading a paragraph on that subject, in the "Young Man's Guide," he threw his snuff-box into the fire, and did not take another pinch for several months, and verily thought himself a reformed man. But being obliged to sit up several successive nights with a sick child, and feeling, as he supposed, the want of his old stimulus, he at length, by and with the advice of his wife
relapsed into his old habit, from which there if great reason to fear he will never more escape.
I have labored in vain with certain persons in whose welfare I was particularly interested—in circumstances too where I had reason to believe the kindness was appreciated—to dissuade from the use of tobacco, both in chewing and smoking. I could and did prevail in regard to the use of distilled and fermented liquors but the pipe and the quid are still retained, and probably will be so to the end of life.
A writer in the Religious Intellicrencer of many years ago, quotes the late Dr. Paysou as saying of the unconverted man, that like a bird tied by a silk thread, he did not know that he was a prisoner till he attempted to escape. Just so, the writer adds, with the slave of tobacco. Tell him he is bound hand and foot to the practice, and he will generally answer you with a laugh of ridicule or a sneer of contempt. But when he begins to trace the evil effects of this indulgence in the nervous excitability of tbe system, in the clouds of depression that hang, like an incubus, upon the brain, and in confirmed dyspepsia, then he finds, to his sorrow, that to relinquish an inveterate habit is no easy task. The same writer then proceeds to present the
following case in illustration of his principle:
"When at the Theological Seminary at Andover, I had a room-mate who seemed almost to have been born with a smoking propensity. From the rising of the sun, even until the going down of the same, it was one continued puff, puff, puff. I ought perhaps to remark, by way of explanation, that this individual appeared to believe that a cigar was absolutely necessary to him as a medicine. Being a man of a remarkably tender conscience, I have no doubt that this was the only ground on which he could justify himself in the course he was then pursuing. For as this practice, even under the most rigid economy, is necessarily attended with considerable expense, and as it is impossible to pursue any profitable employment while smoking, he would undoubtedly have regarded its abandonment as a great saving, both of time and money.
"'It came to pass that this room-mate of mine once resolved, after sundry appeals to his conscience, to sign off from his old habit, for the space (if I recollect right) of twelve weeks. Through much tribulation, he succeeded in driving it through; but the time had hardly expired, before he had all the apparatus in order preparatory to 'treating his resolution,' which he did with a vengeance. According to the latest advices from him, he continues travelling in the old road; and the indisposition which has so long afflicted him, is doubtless occasioned principally by his inveterate habit."A strong case of apparent emancipation from tobacco slavery is related by Mrs. Nicholson, the keeper of a boarding house in New York. The process of cure was too long and too tedious to be described here. Suffice it to say, that notwithstanding great care and pains, a degree of insanity took place, at first accompanied and followed by intense suffering, but that the sufferer recovered, in a few weeks, his usual health, and went home to his family rejoicing in his escape. And yet, after the lapse of two years—time enough, one would think for a complete restoration to good habits—the misrable man returned to his chewing and
The question here proposed is one which, so far as tobacco is concerned, I cannot fully answer. I have known cases of reform where the individual is still living, and has not relapsed, as yet; but how long he will remair true to himself, is not so certain. One or two of these cases will be mentioned presently. With regard to the dram-drinker, however, it is hardly necessary for me to say, that many an individual of this class has been reformed, and has persevered in his course to the end of life
One of the most striking instances of the
power of habit and loss of self-control—in other words, slavery—involved in the use of tobacco, is afforded by the story of Gen. Sheldon, of Westfield, Mass., who died four or five years ago at Houston, in Texas.
Gen. Sheldon had once been addicted, very strongly, both to chewing and smoking tobacco, but at the suggestion of Mr. Graham, he entirely abandoned it, and no man ever exulted more in his freedom than he, or spoke with more warmth or zeal of the benefits of reformation. And yet, "as the dog returns to his vomit [Prov. 26:11; 2 Pet. 2:22]," so he returned to his old practices, and doubtless died in chains. The following account of his fall is in Mr. Graham's own language:
The same individual [Mr. Graham] was instrumental in curing another man—a Mr. Penniman, of Albany—of his attachment to tobacco; but it was by a long process of fasting, bathing, &c. This man, however, relapsed into his old habits, as appears from the following most appalling but authentic statements:
Yet, after all, there is no need of despair even in these terrible circumstances. Men have been emancipated, and gone on well for years, and in all probability, will persevere to the end. I will barely advert to two cases of this kind.
The first is that of Mr. John Benson, of Boston. He was not only a confirmed tobacco-chewer, but was enslaved to the foul habit of swallowing the juice. And, strange as it may seem to those who are ignorant of the power of habit, he became so attached to this disgusting liquid, that, as he assures us, nothing taken into the stomach, whether food or drink, was so
grateful to his depraved taste. It was, in truth, delicious. And no man, I am sure, was ever a more wretched dyspeptic. And yet at the age of about fifty, he utterly abandoned tobacco in every form and shape; and he remains to this day—though now at the age of sixty-six—a truly reformed man.
The other case was given to the public, some years since [ago], by the Rev. Mr. Ludlow, of New York, in the columns of the New York Evangelist. He was speaking of a resolution passed in the general association of ministers of Massachusetts, implying that the use of tobacco was injurious both to the cause of temperance and that of religion.
Tobacco, as we have elsewhere seen, affects unfavorably, at least four or five of the senses. Now, if it is through the medium of these avenues that we receive most of our knowledge, should we not expect that what impairs the senses will also impair the mental faculties? Such, in truth, we find to to be the case.
In nothing, however, are we more certainly injured by the use of tobacco, than in the memory. Dr. [Benjamin] Rush [1746-1813] states of the father of Dr. Massillac, that he lost his memory through the excessive use of snuff, at only forty years of age. Sir John Pringle's [1707-1782] memory was also sadly impaired in the same way, as was proved by his recovery on abstaining from it, at the suggestion of Dr. [Benjamin] Franklin [1706-1790].
Nothing is more common than to hear old tobacco-chewers and snuff-takers complain of a bad or defective memory. Tell them, indeed, beforehand, that tobacco injuries them, and they will not be apt to make the confession. But only take them when they are off their guard, and no acknowledgment is more common.
Of all the preparations of tobacco, snuff appears to be the worst, in proportion to its quantity, for the brain and nerves. "It impairs," says Dr. Stephenson, "the functions of the brain, clouds the understanding, and enfeebles the memory."
Dr. Cullen said he knew several instances in which the use of tobacco produced
"loss of memory, fatuity, and other symptoms of a weakened or senile state of the nervous system, induced before the usual period."
But, every form of tobacco is injurious to
every faculty of the mind. Dr. Stephenson says, "It is ruinous to intellect." Again he says, "In all its forms it appears to be deleterious to the brain and nervous system."
Gov. Sullivan says, "It has never failed to render me dull and heavy, to interrupt my usual alertness of thought, and to weaken the power of my mind in analyzing subjects and defining ideas."
Prof. Hitchcock says,
Let us not, however, mistake the meaning of
Prof. H. He does not suppose that the intellectual operations are permanently quickened by tobacco. On the contrary, no class of men, as a class, think more tardily than old tobacco-mongers, especially chewers. One may well be astonished at the slowness of their intellectual movements—as if some mighty load were upon them, pressing them down.
*To which Dr. Rush might have added his own favorite prescription in some of these cases, viz., a cold shower-bath, and a good deal of friction after it, with a coarse cloth or a flesh-brush.
If idleness is, in its tendencies, immoral, then tobacco certainly must be so, at least indirectly; for, few habits make men idle more readily than chewing and smoking, especially the latter. But the tendency of idleness has not been doubted since the days of Solomon [10th century B.C.], king of Judah and Israel. The eccentric, but ingenious John Bunyan [1628-1688] used to say of the idle man's brain, that it was the devil's workshop.
Those who use tobacco in any of its forms, are, moreover, exceedingly inclined to a neglect of cleanliness. But the tendency of uncleanliness in our persons and dress has long ago been pointed out, and will not, I believe, be questioned. Sir John Pringle [1707-1782] alludes to it with a good deal of emphasis; and so does [Joseph] Addison [1672-1719].
And Jeremy Taylor goes so far in this matter as to affirm that "Cleanliness is next to godliness."
"Tobacco," says Dr. [Benjamin] Rush [1746-1813], "more especially when used in smoking, is generally offensive to people who do not use it. To smoke in company, under such circumstances, is a breach of good manners. Now, manners have an influence upon morals. They may be considered as the outposts of virtue. A habit of offending the senses of friends or strangers, by the use of tobacco, cannot, therefore, be indulged with innocence. It produces a want of respect for our fellow-creatures, and this always disposes us to unjust and unkind behavior [[Ed. Note: e.g., crime, drunk-driving, SIDS, abortion, lung cancer, murder, genocide] towards them. Who ever knew a rude man completely or uniformly moral?"
"Tobacco with many," says Dr. Stephenson, "especially with inexperienced youth, is the handmaid of dissipation and vice; and deeply involves the individual, as well as the general health, morals and happiness of the rising generation."
I shall say less, under the present head, of the tendency of the use of tobacco to drunkenness and debauchery, because, of its tendency to the former I have said enough, and because its tendency to licentiousness will not probably be
questioned. In truth, the tendency to both is so obvious, that this alone would seem sufficient to banish it forever from all decent society, were there not another solitary charge to be brought against it.
One of the most distressing circumstances connected with this whole subject, is the well known fact, that our schools and colleges, to a very great extent, are defiled by this vile narcotic, and that those young men who should be forming and cultivating habits of industry and integrity, and principles of virtue and morality, are falling in great numbers under its influence. The facts and statements I have already made [in 1836], go far to establish the truth of this position.
Nor is the charge wholly new, though it is to be greatly feared that the evil is at present on the increase. "Who," said Dr. [Benjamin] Rush [1746-1813] near fifty years ago, "can see groups of boys of six or eight years old, in our streets smoking cigars, without anticipating such a depreciation of our posterity in health and character, as can scarcely be contemplated, at this distance, without pain and horror?"
trifling degree, by the female sex. There is a way by which woman, especially the young woman, has it in her power to do a very great service to the cause of temperance in all things. Need I advert to it? Has it not been often enough insisted on? Woman cannot, on this point, be ignorant. Does she not know, that, by the kind of influence she exerts, she rules the world, and is destined to rule it still more effectually in time to come? The Rev. Timothy Flint used to say, that,
"If this world is ever to become a better and happier world, woman, properly enlightened, aware of her influence, and disposed to exert it aright, must be the prime mover in the great work."
The Methodists, in early times, forbade the use of tobacco to their people.
bundles of cut, or rolls of pigtail tobacco? Such a costly and offensive apparatus would have furnished solid objections to their persons and doctrines; and would have been a just cause for the clamors and contempt which were excited against them."
Now the early Methodists were not wholly alone in their hatred of tobacco. The famous John Eliot [1604-1690], the Indian apostle, William Penn [1644-1718], the Quaker, and many more eminently good men, like [John] Wesley [1603-1691] and his followers, set their faces as a flint against it. Indeed, it not unfrequently happens, that when men are first enlightened and moved by the Holy Spirit, and they begin to look about them to see in what sins they are involved, they entertain doubts in regard to the propriety, not to say lawfulness, of many things upon which custom has set its seal. They see, for a time, at least, that every thing we do, whether large or small, should be done to the approval and glory of God.
But it most unfortunately happens, that quite too many, even of those who call themselves Christians, are ready to pronounce them "superstitious," if not "whimsical;" and to level against them the shafts of ridicule. The consequence too often is, that they fall back to the line of
Christian society, as it is, and remain there. This result prevents, of course, any considerable advance or elevation of Christian character and gives the world occasion to say —"What do ye more than others?"
And how shall the standard of Christian practice and character be elevated, so long as both common Christians and ministers are not only involved in guilt themselves, but are endeavoring to suppress, among their people, every rising germ of a keener than the common or fashionable conscientiousness? For is it not a most lamentable fact, that some Christian ministers—some of them temperance men too—up to this very hour, not only use tobacco themselves, but actually defend its use? What, then, is to be expected of their churches and congregations?
Not indeed that ministers are more enslaved to tobacco than other men, if indeed they are as much so. Not that they are in this respect more at fault than other professional men especially physicians. But I mention ministers on account of the office they sustain, and the consequent sacredness of character which is demanded. I could speak of some of the most gifted lawyers and teachers of our country, who
are as effectually debased by tobacco, as any of their brethren of the pulpit, whether of past days or present, ever were. One of these, on being called upon to make a speech in Boston in a very conspicuous place, before a highly intelligent and delicate audience, could not proceed till he had disgorged himself, most unceremoniously, of a large quantity of tobacco; and that, too, on the platform, in full view of the whole audience.
Still, all this is as nothing compared with the sight of a minister with his tobacco in his mouth, even in church; and only laying it aside when he prays. Yet scenes like this have been witnessed; and the ministers concerned were among the most distinguished in our United States.
[John] Wesley [1703-1791] says—"Use no tobacco unless prescribed by a physician. It is an uncleanly and unwholesome self-indulgence." It was customary with this great man not to receive into the ministry any individual who persisted in the use of this drug. Would that his followers had adhered to the same principle, and that other sects had profited from the example. Would, rather, that no young man might present himself as moved by the Holy Ghost to preach the
gospel, who has not light and conscience enough to prevent him from using tobacco.
Many resolutions have been passed in this country against tobacco, by associations of ministers of varrous denominations; and they have probably done good. Much, however, very much remains to be done, especially by example.
So far as precept, merely, is concerned, no individual has told more plain truth to ministers—and his remarks will, in fact, many of them, apply to all Christians—than Rev. Dr. [Samuel] Miller [1769-1850], of Princeton, in his "Letters on Clerical Manners and Habits [(New York: G. & C. Carvill, 1827; Princeton, Moore Baker, 1835; Belfast: William M'Comb, 1842; Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1852)]." In one part of his work he observes as follows:
*Perhaps it is not, as yet, fully known, or at least fully believed, that sedentary men, (above all, students,) either feel or imagine they feel, a thousand times more than hard laborers in the open air, the need of extra stimulus. Were this fact better known, it might prevent a part of the reproach which is apt to be dealt out, in large measure, when one of their number falls; as well as lead us, generally, a little further than we are wont to go, in the wide field of charity.
In the last paragraph, Dr. M. has certainly pointed out the only true method of reformation ["renounce . . . entirely"]; but the remarks which precede will do much towards neutralizing the force of his suggestions, especially as society is now constituted. He says that tobacco should be used as digitalis, opium or calomel are. But do not the world adhere, as yet, to the right of using these and all other medicinal substances, whenever they suppose their health demands them, without asking the advice of physicians?
Now the liberty of using tobacco in the same way, though it may seem but a rational liberty, is to the miserable slaves of this poisonous drug, tantamount to a permission to use it when they please, in other words, to use it, if they have bad feelings which they think it would remove,
habitually. With such a license in his pocket or hands, no man, I am sure, would ever break away from his chains. The necessity—the supposed necessity, I mean—of using for the "stomach's sake," or on account of "infirmities," a thing of which he was so fond, from being occasional, would become, at length, frequent and habitual.
Though I have pledged myself to speak principally of the use of tobacco in the case of the healthy, yet I cannot forbear, at this point, from expressing the wish, that it were possible to banish tobacco and snuff from the list of medicines entirely, and confine their use wholly to the arts. Let the world feel, if it were possible, the full force of the doctrine, that if they mean to free themselves from slavery to any narcotic substance whatever, they must, as Dr. Miller himself finally asserts, renounce the use of it entirely. With this determinations and with true Christian principle, there may be hope.
Never, in my own view, will truth shine forth, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners, till her disciples are freed from slavery to the quid, the pipe, the cigar, and the snuff-box. It is certainly much to be free from the use of ardent
spirits; but it is much more still, to be free from all gross habits, especially those which are as gross as the use of tobacco. Always will Christianity halt, and be more or less distorted and disfigured, till the use of these things is not only known and felt to be wrong but total abstinence, without qualification, and withou reserve, becomes, as it were, the motto of all the disciples of Christ, especially, and above all of his ministers.
Hardly an animal besides man, will so much as take tobacco into its mouth, unless by compulsion. Horses, cows, sheep, cats, dogs, and even hogs, all-devouring as they are, refuse to taste it. Its effluvia drive flies, mosquitoes, moths, &c., from our rooms and clothes, and insects from our plants.
Probably the use of the plant is confined chiefly to man and the worm which inhabits it.*
One proof of the filthiness of tobacco, is found in the offensive breath of those who use it, especially in the way of chewing. It is an odor that cannot be got rid of by the most scrupulous attention to washing and cleanliness, till the foul habit itself is wholly relinquished.
Perhaps no person could be found, even among tobacco-mongers themselves, who would not confess to the charge of its uncleanness; so that testimony in the case is scarcely required. And yet I am disposed to adduce a few proofs.
"The habit of using tobacco," says Dr. Mussey, "is uncleanly and impolite. It is uncleanly from the foul odor, the muddy nostril, and darkly smeared lip it confers, and from the encouragement it gives to the habit of spitting, which in our country would be sufficiently loathsome without it. By what rule of polite-____________
*I am not ignorant of what has been said about teaching the horse and the dog to chew tobacco; but these stories, if true, prove no more in favor of the common use of tobacco, than of rum. Nor does the saying, however well attested, that the deer will sometimes crop the tender shoots of tobacco, prove any thing, more than the fact that the dog and cat will eat onion tops, proves their herbivorous character.
ness may I poison the air my neighbor is compelled to breathe, or so load it with an unhealthy and loathsome material, as to make him uncomfortable and wretched as long as I am in his company?" "I have seen a person vomit," he adds, "out of a stage-coach, from the influence of that indescribable breath which results from alcoholic liquor and tobacco smoke."
Rev. Mr. Fowler, of Fall River, calls it "a poisonous weed," which, "for filthiness and disgust, scarcely has its parallel in the whole vegetable kingdom." And again, in protesting against the use of snuff, when taken to remove affections of the head, he speaks of the egregious folly of filling the pores and cavities of the head with what he calls, and with much propriety, "dirty stuff."
King James I., who in the year 1600, soon after the introduction of tobacco into England, wrote a treatise against it, says that it is "hateful to the nose, baneful to the brain, and dangerous to the lungs." He also represents "its black stinking fames," as nearest resembling the "horrible Stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless." And again, as if to show still more strongly, his utter contempt of the vile plant, he says—"Some of the gentry of
this land bestow three, some four hundred pounds a year upon this precious stink."
It is not a little surprising to observe how ready the transition sometimes is, in the devotees of snuff and tobacco, from the most cleanly habits, to those which are their exact opposites. Most persons, of any considerable observation, must have seen more or fewer examples of the kind. The most tidy and even delicate female appears to be unable to withstand the tendency. She will soon be found not only besmeared with snuff in her person, but also in her clothes.
So it is with the tobacco-chewer, no less than with the snuff-taker. I have seen an individual so loud as to be almost boisterous in his praises of temperance, while his ruffled shirt bosom was not only besmeared with snuff, but his breath was so offensive that it could hardly be endured. I have even seen a teacher a medicine—one of the most distinguished in our country—who plied his snuff-box so incessantly while lecturing to his class, as not only to tinge his clothes with it, but to give his very manuscript a soiled and yellow appearance. His voice, moreover, was as much injured as his clothes and papers. Another teacher, who stood high in the same department, was scarcely less
filthy in his habits, and little less a slave to the same despicable weed.
But if all the other filthiness connected with the use of tobacco were tolerable, the spitting it occasions would not be. How many excellent men—would there were no Christian ministers on the list—are almost as much dreaded as the cholera or the small pox, simply and solely because neither floors nor furniture are safe in their presence. That the room would be scented for a day or two, could be borne, but to have floors and carpets, or even stoves or fire-places, stained with tobacco juice, is quite too much for ordinary house-keepers to endure
Mr. Sargent, the distinguished author and lecturer on temperance, at a meeting of the Boston Union Temperance Society,* some time ago, spoke very ingeniously of a small, portable mill or distillery, which many of our citizens carry about with them for the purpose of manufacturing an intoxicating liquor for immediate use. He minutely described all the parts of the mill, the manner of working it, the supply of fluid for working, the passing off of the su-
perfluous matter in certain well known channels, &c. The liquor, he says, by over-working, sometimes passes out, and runs down from the bung-hole, like the rapid fermentation of cider. "When the mill has done its work," he adds, "it is often washed with a mixture of brandy and water."
It is hardly wrong to apply the keen edge of ridicule, in the removal of a custom so filthy, and which leads to so many other filthy and pernicious habits. When we find it even true of some ministers of the gospel, that they are devoted to the use of this nauseous drug, it is surely time to speak out. "Not long since," says a writer on this subject, "a clergyman called on me as agent for one of the most popular societies for spreading the knowledge of Christ crucified throughout the world. His breath was intolerable; and the tobacco juice had formed a current from each corner of his mouth downwards." I have myself been eye-witness to a scene almost exactly like this, and can therefore believe, most implicitly, the writer's statement.
The case of Rev. Dr. Cooper might afford matter for not a little reflection on the folly and filthiness of using snuff. Who wishes to con-
vert all the passages and cavities of the head into so many chimneys and smoke-houses? Who, above ill, is willirg to have the cavities of the frontal bones filled with hardened compacted Scotch snuff?
It is unnecessary, perhaps, to make any statements concerning the filthiness of using tobacco and snuff which are doubtful. And yet the opinion is somewhat current among medical men, that worms in the cavities of which I have just spoken, are sometimes caused by snuff-taking. Certain aromatics added to the snuff attract to it a species of fly, we are told, which deposits its eggs in it; and these being snuffed into the brain, form maggots, and induce the most painful diseases; it is also true that painful diseases often have their seat in the membrane which lines these cavities. But then it is also true that beasts, which do not take snuff, are known to suffer in the same way. Besides, the substances which are most commonly added to snuff, repel insects, instead of attracting them. I cannot, therefore, avoid the conclusion, that the opinions to which I have alluded, though they may prove true hereafter, are, as yet very far from being well established.
XVL—WHO SUFFER MOST FROM TOBACCO
If we speak with reference to the general employments of mankind, it is probably true that sedentary persons, especially literary men, are the greatest sufferers from the use of tobacco; and of this large class of persons, those individuals are most largely injured who are predisposed to glandular swellings, polypus, cancer, scrofula, or consumption.
I will not indeed insist, as some have done, that the pipe and cigar not only develop cancer in the mouth, but that the part in which the cancer is developed is the very part on which the pipe or cigar had been accustomed to rest. It may be so, for aught I know; but I dare not affirm it. But the connection between the use of tobacco and the appearance and fatal termination of cancers, as well as numbrous other severe or fatal diseases, is too obvious to be denied, or for one moment doubted.
On this point, I beg to be distinctly understood. No person can use tobacco, in the least degree, without injury.
And yet it is certainly true that some are injured by it more immediately, as well as more in the aggregate, than
others; just as it is in the case of any other abuse of the human constitution.
Farmers [Ed. Note: warned by the 1836 Farmers' Almanac] suffer less from tobacco, most evidently, than men of any other occupation. There is nothing that works off disease, or rather the tendencies to disease, like a free [regular] daily use, in the open air, of the muscles with which the human frame is furnished. These, in truth, may be regarded as the safety valve of the system; and happy is he who makes them subserve this, their legitimate purpose.
If we speak with reference to age, old persons suffer least, and children most, from the use of tobacco; and of the young, they suffer most who are constitutionally nervous. Yet these, as a general fact, in youth and in more advanced age, are the very persons who are most liable to become enslaved.
Now it can scarcely be possible that a poison so intense can be used by children without great injury to their vital powers. And hence it is, as we have seen in another place that one half the deaths of men
in that country [Germany] between eighteen and thirty-five years of age, are attributed, by their physicians, to smoking.
But the use of the cigar is becoming almost as common with the young in our own country, as the use of the pipe is with the same class in Germany. And the consequences are likely to be the same. For if we are not already a spectacled nation, we are in great danger of becoming so. The use of spectacles, by the young, especially for near-sightedness, is already exceedingly common.
Females suffer more than males from the use of tobacco; though it is believed that in the use of the pipe, fewer of them proceed to excess than of the other sex; and very few indeed resort to chewing. But in the use of the snuff-box, they are scarcely less at fault than the other sex; and their punishment is equally inveterate and equally severe.
Property is wasted in many ways by the use of tobacco. Every kind and degree of that intellectual and moral waste to which I have already referred, is no doubt accompanied by a
proportionate waste of property. But on these points I cannot enlarge.
We have seen that tobacco is the source of much ill health and consequent waste of time and money. The amount of loss in these respects can hardly be stated, at least in the compass of a short chapter.
There is another thing which deserves to be mentioned. Many a house, barn, livery stable, nay, even many a village and city, has been burnt up in consequence of pipes and cigars. But few years have elapsed since a most tremendous and desolating fire took place at the Sandwich Islands, the cause of which was attributed to smoking.
But of all these losses and many more, it is impossible to make any just estimate. There are other items of loss, however, to which we can at least approximate.
Mr. Fowler has entered, very minutely, upon a consideration of the expense of tobacco to those who use it, though there is reason to believe his estimates fall short of the truth. They are, however, as it appears to me, the best which are to be had.
According to Mr. F., the quantity of tobacco consumed in the United States in 1835, including
cigars, was 52,500,000 pounds. The value of this would be about $10,000,000. The time consumed in using it—saying nothing of loss of time by the sickness consequent upon it—he supposes to be worth $12,500,000. The pauper tax occasioned is placed at $3,000,000. Here is a total of $25,500,000, or in round numbers, of $25,000,000 a year.
Whether this is the aggregate expense now, nine years later than the date of Mr. F.'s estimates, is, indeed, a question to be determined. For my own part, I do not doubt that the waste of property, in this way, is greater in 1844, thar it was in 1835. Yet if it is so, the average expense of tobacco, at the above estimate, for each man, woman and child in the Union, is about one dollar and forty cents; or several dollars each for those who actually use it.
Dr. [Reuben D.] Mussey [1780-1866] estimates the weekly expense of a single smoker, in Cuba, at eighty-seven cents. But even in our own United States, I have known many a poor family that consumed, in smoking and chewing, at least twenty-five cents a week, throughout the year. This, in forty years—and many families continue the use of it so long—would amount to $520; or if placed at compound interest, from year to year, to
more than $2100. What an enormous sum for poor families to consume in forty years, in this way!
This estimate of Mr. F., of the yearly value of the tobacco used in the United States, is based upon the supposition that there are 2,000,000 individuals who spend five dollars a year each; which is but the merest fraction over a cent and a third a day to each. Now this is certainly a low estimate in comparison with that which would make the consumption of half the whole population of Cuba twelve and a half cents a day each.
But have we duly considered what an enormous waste to our nation even $10,000,000 a year is? Let it be that it began in 1835—saying not a word about the preceding years. Let it be that it proceeds at this rate for a single generation, or for 36 years. The amount of the waste during the whole period, if placed at compound interest at the end of every year, would be for the whole United States, more than a thousand million of dollars; and should it be continued through a second generation, or to the year 1907, would be from eight to ten thousand millions. A sum sufficient, if divided among our present population, to give to each
man woman and child, five hundred dollars; or to each family of six persons, three thousand dollars. All this waste, moreover, be it remembered, would take place in only 72 years, or about the period of time usually allotted to the life of man.
If, however, we take for the basis or starting point of our estimates, $25,000,000 a year—the expenditure of time and money, and the loss by pauperism—and make our calculations for the same space of time, the aggregate is so immense as to confound us. It as more than twenty millions of millions of dollars.
So much for the pecuniary loss to the world—rather, to a very small part of it—by the use of tobacco. Yet what is all this to the intellectual, moral and religious loss? These, as I have already said, I will not attempt to estimate.
Let it be fully understood that our only hope of reformation, on the subject of tobacco, is in perceiving its use, in every form, to be sinful; and in acting upon the light we possess in regard to it. No man—need the statement to be repeated?—is a true follower of Christ, who
indulges himself, habitually, in any known sin. How then can he who professes to be the servant of Christ, and really intends to be so, refuse to give up the use of tobacco, whenever he clearly sees that to use it is a sin?
There is, however, one serious difficulty to be encountered in this matter, even when we make our appeal to conscientious persons—to the enlightened disciple of Christ. The belief has gone abroad, and still prevails, that tobacco is highly useful as a defence against contagion. But this is not so. In the sense in which these terms are commonly understood, there is no sure preventive against contagion or disease, but health [Ed. Note: immune system]. The better our health is, the greater our security [immune system] against sickness, and the influences which usually operate to cause sickness. If a person were sufficiently healthy, it is doubtful, to say the least, whether contagion or contagious disease, or indeed any other disease, could affect him.
True it is, that whatever tends to banish fear and inspire with courage, in the midst of contagion, has an effect to fortify us against danger. On this account tobacco, no less than herbs, amulets and charms, with other trifles, has some effect: but then the poisonous, or at least
sedative character of tobacco, depresses the vital energies [AIDS-like] so much, as to more than counter-balance the tendency it has to inspire with courage, to strengthen the action of the heart and arterial system, and thus prevent absorption
Tobacco, therefore, invites disease [AIDS-like], much more than it repels it. The great doctrine here alluded to, that whatever tends to weaken or depress the vital energies of the system—tobacco among the rest—disposes it to be affected by injurious causes, is most amply verified in the history of plague, cholera, small pox, and malignant fevers.
If professors of religion—in other words, the church of Christ—especially ministers, could be once rid of that refuge of errors under which they are wont to entrench themselves, with respect to the influence of tobacco on the teeth and stomach, and as a preventive of disease, they might be appealed to with some hope of success.
Of those who neither have nor pro-
fess to have any religious principle—any conscientiousness at all on the subject—little is to be expected. We may, perhaps, be instrumental in saving their children; for however ready drunkards are, not only to drink themselves, but, in some instances, to teach their very infants to drink spirituous liquors, I never knew a tobacco-chewer or smoker who was at all willing his children should follow his example. Though they should co-operate with us, in our attemps to save their children, in every point but that which would render their efforts most successful—they will not proclaim open war with their own habits. And whether or not their consciences are "seared over," they are, I repeat it, for the most part, beyond the reach of hope.
And yet I do not say this without many misgivings. I have already expressed my belief that even a few slaves to tobacco have been redeemed. That more may be restored—many more than we have now any idea of—is by no means an impossibility in the estimation of him who has watched carefully the progress of what, in temperance, has been called Washingtonianism. Let none who have seen the worst drunkards reclaimed, by scores or by hundreds, despair of tobacco-chewers.
A good story is related by the author of the Temperance Tales, of a very intelligent and zealous friend of tee-totalism, who was a most inveterate, not to say disgusting, slave of tobacco, and yet was recovered. This individual was the accredited and respectable agent of a temperance society, by which he was principally employed in collecting funds. While soliciting contributions one day with his tobacco in his mouth, very much to the annoyance of all who were near him, a better man than he, looking him full in the face, observed—"You, sir, are not a proper person to be an agent in the cause of temperance, for you are not a temperance man yourself; you are enslaved to tobacco." No reply was made; but one of the company, taking the "better man" aside, said, "Do you know who that gentleman is?" "No, I do not," was the reply. "Why, it is Col. L—, one of the best men in the whole country." The reprover was surprised, and would have written a note of apology, but did not know where to address it.
Some time afterward, being at a public place, he recognized, in a better dress, and with a more cleanly and healthy appearance, the same temperance agent. On proceeding to make an
apology, he was prevented by the agent. "No apology is needed," said he; "you did your duty, and your reproof had its intended effect. It led to much reflection and to new resolutions, and as the consequence, you behold me to-day a free man; and you are my deliverer."
Let us then never despair, even of the most hardened. Let us reprove kindly, but yet boldly, whenever we have occasion. The word of truth is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword. Directed by its great Author, it may reach the heart, and by leading to reflection, may "save a soul from death."
ON page 40, I have faintly alluded to a subjject which needs to be more fully discussed. I have stated that tobacco not only produces or originates various diseases, but it greatly aggravates the symptoms of those which have their origin in other causes. It is also added, that it "hastens the development of those dis-ases, to which, by inheritance, we are constitutionally predisposed, but which otherwise might have slumbered."
Now it ought to be known to every one who uses tobacco, habitually, in any form, however moderately, that if subsequently attacked by acute disease, that disease is ever more severe, and more likely to prove fatal, than in the case of those who are not addicted to its use. I mean, of course, that such is the result, other things and circumstances being equal. The same remark is indeed applicable to the use of alcohol, or any other unnatural excitant. Even
Now it ought to be known to every one who uses tobacco, habitually, in any form, however moderately, that if subsequently attacked by acute disease, that disease is ever more severe, and more likely to prove fatal, than in the case of those who are not addicted to its use. I mean, of course, that such is the result, other things and circumstances being equal. The same remark is indeed applicable to the use of alcohol, or any other unnatural excitant. Even
a common cold—and a cold is a disease—is in all these cases more severe than otherwise it would have been.
Another fact also deserves notice. Not only is the disease, in itself, more severe, but it is less manageable by medicine. Every physician of experience has had occasion, in his daily practice, to verify the truth of this remark. Let no individual, therefore, say that tobacco does not hurt him, merely because the punishment of his transgression is long deferred. Let him remember the words of Solomon, and learn to profit from them:—"Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil."
Other Books by Dr. Alcott
Lectures on Life and Health, or, The Laws and Means of Physical Culture (Boston: Phillips, Sampson and Co, 1853)
The Physical and Moral Effects of Using Tobacco as a Luxury [Narcotic Drug]: A Prize Essay (New York: Wm. Harned, 1853)
Tea and Coffee: Their Physical, Intellectual and Moral Effects on the Human System, 4th ed. (Boston: Bela Marsh, 1849) and (Manchester: John Heywood, 1855)
The House I Live In, or, The Human Body: For the Use of Families and Schools, with Questions and Explanations (New York: J.C. Derby, 1855)
The Laws of Health, or, Sequel to "The House I Live In" (Boston: Jewett, 1856, 1859)
Other Books on Tobacco Effects
|Evils of Using Tobacco, and the Necessity|
of Immediate and Entire Reformation,
by Rev. Orin S. Fowler (1833)
The Use and Abuse of Tobacco,
by Dr. John Lizars (1859)
Tobacco and Its Effects: Report
to the Wisconsin Board of Health,
by G. F. Witter, M.D. (1881)
Click Here for Titles of Additional Books