Thursday, April 21, 2011

History of Tobacco Smoking in 19th Century

Coming in the 19th Century, tobacco smoking has significant amount of supporters and no less significant opposition. While there little efforts to ban tobacco smoking, the anti-smoking campaigns were gaining much higher support among general public.

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Cigarettes-Health Links

In 1798, Dr. Benjamin Rush, the noted American physician, emphasized the similarity between habitual tobacco and alcohol use in his Observations upon the Influence of the Habitual Use of Tobacco.  In 1828, two German medical students, Ludwig Reimann and Wilhelm Heinrich, wrote dissertations on the effects of nicotine in which both concluded that the ingredient found in tobacco was a “dangerous poison.”  Health reformers in the United States argued that tobacco was poisonous and addictive.  It is “the most deadly, most noxious poison,” wrote Dr. Caleb Ticknor in 1836.

Leaders in the anti-tobacco movement, such as Edward Hitchcock of Amherst College and the Reverend George Trask, considered the substance to be as habit-forming as alcohol and dangerous even when used in moderation.  On the latter point they countered arguments by those who insisted that moderate use of tobacco by adult men was not harmful, and could be beneficial.  In 1853, Dr. William Alcott, in The Physical and Moral Effects of Using Tobacco as a Luxury, wrote of the “tobacco drunkard” and employed an analogy from the then highly controversial topic of slavery:  “Most emphatically does tobacco enslave its votaries [i.e., users]… It is the uniform testimony of those who have attempted to emancipate themselves from their attachment and bondage to tobacco, that to break the chains in which they are bound, requires the sternest efforts of reason, conscience, and the will.”  A humorous verse, “Tobacco and I,” in the July 9, 1859 issue of Harper’s Weekly states that “Old Nick”—i.e., the Devil—is in nicotine, and that the author’s tobacco habit, “dulls the sense, defiles the breath/ Depraves the taste, depletes the purse;/ Poisons the very air with death…”

Cigarettes Bans in 19th Century in USA

Smoking bans and restrictions found little favor in the developing Industrial world of the 19th century. However in the USA as the century drew to a close moral crusaders outraged by the consumption of alcohol and tobacco by American people began to demand action by federal and state legislators. There were some anti-smoking laws adopted:

1818: Smoking is banned on the streets of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The mayor is fined when he becomes the first man to break the law.
1840: Smoking is banned in Boston.
1893: Washington State introduces legislation banning the sale and consumption of cigarettes.
1898: Total ban on cigarettes in the state of Tennessee.

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Smoking Tobacco as Lifesaver

It would be incorrect to present a tobacco advocates point of view that smoking does not harm your health, but in some cases might save your life.

For example, the treatment, documented in an 1801 journal by a navy medical officer, refer to tobacco as the best and the only life saving medicine. When sailor James Calloway, 40, was pulled from the sea after being underwater for at least 12 minutes, Dr. Ben Lara described him as having "the appearance of a corpse." Lara reports Calloway had tobacco smoke piped into his lungs, and after 45 minutes, Lara noticed "an obscure palpitation of (Calloway's) heart." Shortly afterward, Calloway's pulse was detected, the smoke treatment was stopped and he was given some brandy.

Despite its harmful side effects - from heart disease to lung cancer - using tobacco smoke to revive people wasn't entirely without merit, said Stephen Spiro, vice chair of the British Lung Foundation. "Any noxious chemical that irritates the airways might make somebody gasp or breathe," he said.

Culture of Tobacco Use

Although a few women shared the tobacco habit in nineteenth-century America, it was overwhelming a male endeavor.  The most popular ways for American men of the time to consume tobacco were pipes, cigars, and chewing tobacco.  Snuff had largely gone out of fashion by mid-century, except for occasional sniffs by high-society youth.  Pipes were a favorite of all social classes, and varied in style from expensive, elaborately carved wood or stone to simpler, moderately-priced versions to cheap ones made of clay or corncob.  Chewing tobacco was common throughout the century in rural and urban areas alike, requiring spittoons in the cities’ public buildings.  It was popular among working class and poor Americans, but was shunned by polite society in the late-nineteenth century.

American soldiers were introduced to cigars during the Mexican War (1846-1848) and they became a fad with men in the 1850s.  Cigars ranged in price from cheap to expensive, but were associated for the rest of the century with affluence, respectability, and success in the male bastions of business, politics, and the military.  Cigars were the most exclusively male of all tobacco products, while cigarettes, in contrast, were considered unmanly until the end of the nineteenth century.  The manufacturing of cigarettes in the United States began in the early 1860s and mass production was achieved in the early 1880s.  There were two basic kinds of cigarette products:  high-end, expensive brands made of imported tobacco; and low-end, cheap brands made of domestic tobacco.

High-end cigarettes were linked with the moral decadence of Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America, where the products were both manufactured and popular.  Hand-rolled cigarettes, also made from imported tobacco, implied the user had the leisure to indulge the habit, and was not participating in his manly duty to earn a living and provide for a family.  Thus, the cigar represented the family man who gained wealth through hard work and self-sacrifice, and who respected traditional morality and authority; the cigarette symbolized the man whose inherited wealth allowed him to remain in a sort of perpetual, self-centered adolescence—unmarried, disrespectful of conventional morality and authority, and attracted to things foreign.

The markets for cheap, domestic cigarettes in the late-nineteenth century were primarily boys and immigrant men from southern and eastern Europe, where the habit was common.  The low cost and convenience of cigarettes also encouraged urban working-class men to take up the practice over the next few decades.  Cigarettes could be smoked quickly while walking to and from work, on lunch breaks, and when the boss was not around.  They were also less offensive than other tobacco product to nonsmokers in the congested and rapidly growing cities of America.

These groups of cigarette smokers reinforced the stereotype that the habit was unmanly.  Boys were immature, and presumably did not have the responsibility of providing for a family (actually, some working-class boys did, at least in part).  Poor and working-class men (which included most immigrants) were considered unsuccessful financially, and not socially (and sometimes, morally) respectable.  Therefore, they did not fit the middle-class ideal of American manhood in the late-nineteenth century. 

The public attitude against men smoking cigarettes began to change with the Spanish-American War in 1898.  Many of the young American soldiers, particularly those from rural areas, were introduced to cigarettes as they came in contact with residents of the (former) Spanish colonies of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines, where cigarettes were smoked by most of the population.  Although U.S. military officials approved enlisted men using pipes and chewing tobacco, they tried unsuccessfully to discourage cigarette smoking.  In fact, American sailors threatened to mutiny if deprived of cigarettes.  They had practical advantages over other tobacco products.  They could be carried easily in a uniform pocket, smoked quickly, and did not spoil in humid weather like cigars.  In cramped military quarters, particularly on long sea voyages, the milder cigarette odor would be less offensive to nonsmokers than strong cigar smoke.

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By the late 19th century, two innovations had helped launch cigarette companies to national prominence. The first, a cigarette-making machine introduced in the 1880s, dramatically increased production; instead of producing some 40,000 hand-rolled cigarettes a day, a company with one of these machines could produce 4 million cigarettes daily. The second development came in the late 1870s with the invention of color lithography, which revolutionized advertising and packaging and helped developing brands strengthen their identities. Using this new technology, companies began including small cigarette cards in every box as premiums. These collectible trading cards depicted movie stars, famous athletes and even Native American chiefs.

Smoking Etiquette

Smoking in the nineteenth century underwent many amusing changes, per the advice of etiquette books.

From 1844s Hints on etiquette and the usages of society:
If you are so unfortunate as to have contracted the low habit of smoking, be careful to practice it under certain restrictions; at least, so long as you are desirous of being considered fit for civilized society.

The first mark of a gentleman is a sensitive regard for the feelings of others; therefore, smoke where it is least likely to prove personally offensive by making your clothes smell; then wash your mouth, and brush your teeth. What man of delicacy could presume to address a lady with his breath smelling of onions ? Yet tobacco is equally odious. The tobacco smoker, in public, is the most selfish animal imaginable; he perseveres in contaminating the pure and fragrant air, careless whom he annoys, and is but the fitting inmate of a tavern.

Smoking in the streets, or in a theatre, is only practiced by shop-boys, pseudo-fashionables — and the “swell Mob.”

All songs that you may see written in praise of smoking in magazines or newspapers, or hear sung upon the stage, are puffs, paid for by the proprietors of cigar divans and tobacco shops, to make their trade popular, — therefore, never believe nor be deluded by them.

From 1889s Hand-book of official and social etiquette and public ceremonials at Washington:
The practice of smoking should be exercised with much discretion in public or private. As a rule it is offensive to ladies in this country no matter how much they may disclaim the fact. It would be a proper course and a respect to ladies for a gentleman not to smoke while in their society. It is customary in some houses for gentlemen to smoke at the close of dinner, but this should only be after the ladies have retired from the table. Sometimes the gentlemen are invited into another apartment for smoking, and rejoin the ladies in the drawing-room after they have disposed of their cigars. It is at all times inelegant to be puffing away at a cigar while walking with a lady on the street or engaging her in conversation. Smoking a pipe in public is not only inelegant but is offensive to most people.

From 1897s Manners for Men:
The etiquette in this, as in many other matters, has quite altered during the last few years. At one time it was considered a sign of infamously bad taste to smoke in the presence of women in any circumstances. But it is now no longer so. So many women smoke themselves, that in some houses even the drawing-room is thrown open to Princess Nicotine. The example of the Prince of Wales has been largely instrumental in sweeping away the old restrictions. He smokes almost incessantly…It is now no uncommon thing to see a man in evening dress smoking in a brougham with a lady on their way to opera, theatre, or dinner engagement.

From 1898s Etiquette for Americans:
Gentlemen in this country do smoke, when at home, in the drawing-room and dining-room j there is no doubt about that; that is, when the women of the family do not object. Most women have a decided objection to bedroom smoking; and it is not a wise practice, on any account, to use up the freshness of bedroom air. But putting aside old-fashioned prejudices, and out-of-date “notions” as many sensible dislikes of women are called—a man should never smoke anywhere, without first assuring himself that it is not disagreeable to the ladies in the room, and in the house. A gentleman paying an afternoon visit should not smoke unless others begin; and even then it should be someone in authority, and not a younger brother, for instance, or a “cheeky” caller who leads him on. He should never smoke before the ladies have left the dining-room, except in unusual instances; he should not smoke when any one—with a real voice—is singing, for tobacco smoke is death to vocal success and causes great discomfort to singers, whose throats, being highly trained, are proverbially sensitive.

Smoking in the streets is allowed, and cannot be checked, since rules do not reach the masses, unless enforced by police regulations. An American gentleman does not smoke when he is walking with a lady, or where he is likely to meet a lady. No one but a sensitive woman knows how unpleasant it is in a crowded thoroughfare to walk exactly behind a man whose cigar is not of a high order; and men are sometimes cognizant of this fact, but rarely.

The etiquette of smoking among women has not reached the stage when it permits the habit to be publicly indulged. Women are obliged to smoke in corners, when they are at clubs or races. How long this state of things will continue it is impossible to say. At the present rate of progress, women and young girls will be smoking in the streets with men. It is a horror and a crying shame; for the debasing character of the custom will inevitably destroy the delicacy of women.

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1 comment:

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