BITS and PIECES
from Clean Living Movements: American cycles of Health reform
Ruth Clifford Engs. Praeger Press: Westport, CT.
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TOBACCO IS ADDICTING
There has been recent press coverage about "Big Tobacco" allegedly covering up the fact that tobacco can be addicting. However,the dangers of tobacco use, including its addicting property, have been commonly known since the early 1800s. This resulted in many reformers and health professionals condemning its use during the last century.
From Chapter III:From the 1830s until the Civil War period, health reformers operated on the thesis that tobacco was a deadly poison. In an effort to encourage individuals to quit, or not start its use, reformers portrayed the disgusting figures of tobacco chewers as intemperate, physically ill, and morally depraved. In 1849 as the result of reformers’ increasing concern over tobacco, and in conscious imitation of temperance efforts, the American Anti-tobacco Society was organized (Alcott 1835, 183-185; Trall 1855, 10-20; Numbers 1976, 40).
Many reformers and physicians of the day discussed the health consequences of tobacco. Edward Hitchcock (1830, 314), of Amherst College, considered tobacco, as well as alcohol, as dangerous substances even when used moderately; he believed they caused moral deterioration and inherited weakness. Alcott (1835, 183-185) regarded its use as evil for similar reasons. Caleb Ticknor, a physician, (1836, 110-111) deemed tobacco “the most deadly, most noxious poison” and considered it addictive. Larkin Coles (1855, 7,58,64,88), a Seventh-day Adventist minister and physician, suggested tobacco did far more damage than alcohol to the health and welfare of Americans. Joel Shew (1855, 6-13), a hydropathic physician, published a tract listing 87 diseases caused by tobacco--the first being insanity and the last cancer. He considered chewing to be the most harmful form of intake.
Like the “Gateway theory” of drugs during the late twentieth century movement, in which the use of tobacco was claimed to lead to marijuana, alcohol and “harder drugs,” tobacco use was implicated in the First movement as leading to intemperance and other immoral behaviors. This was also found in the Second movement. It was suggested that “while the use of tobacco continues, intemperance will continue to curse the world" (Baldwin 1855, 14-15). Catharine Beecher’s writings (1856, 182) argued “that tobacco destroys more than alcohol, because so many more use it, and so many are led to opium and alcohol by its influence”(Robert 1949, 107-111; Baldwin 1855, 14-15).
The anti-tobacco movement, like most other health-reform issues of the First Clean Living era, waned by the time of the Civil War. During and immediately after the war there was an increase in tobacco use, from smoking cigars and newly introduced cigarettes (Robert 1949, 112; Fiske 1869, 8).