Sunday, September 15, 2013

Cigarettes 101: Historical Description 101 years ago by George Fitch


During the lifetime of humorist George Fitch, some critics thought that he might take the place of Mark Twain in the hearts and libraries of American readers. Sadly, Fitch's promise was cut short when he died aged 38 from a ruptured appendix. Fitch is an author of an early form of the famous quote "Journalism is the first rough draft of history.", writing “A reporter is a young man who blocks out the first draft of history each day on a rheumatic typewriter”

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This column by George Fitch appeared Aug. 6, 1912, on the State Journal editorial page:

A cigarette is a small paper cylinder which is used by some people as a substitute for tobacco and by others as a substitute for brains.

The cigarette is poisonous in the extreme and a million of them will kill a strong man if he lives long enough to smoke them. It has as few friends in this country as the rattlesnake and is much more violently denounced. Very few boys have been bitten by rattlesnakes, but millions of boys have smoked cigarettes behind the barn just once and have been unable to walk with comfort for a week afterward.

Cigarettes are very cheap and if a man will roll them himself he can smoke 100 at a cost of 5 cents for material and $20 in time. Spain has stood still for hundreds of years because its people have not learned how to work and roll cigarettes at the same time.

Rolling cigarettes is a difficult art and many of our college students labor years to perfect it. When a college boy comes home able to roll a cigarette with one hand, you can see about all that he has picked up in college on the ends of his fingers.

When a young man smokes cigarettes to excess, he becomes so permeated with poison that microbes cannot live in him and he has to linger along for years with a kiln dried brain that rattles in his head like a dried pea in a wash-boiler.

Cigarettes are used mostly by boys, loafers, college students, artists and literary men. ...

Some women smoke cigarettes. They are of two kinds. When you see a woman smoking cigarettes you can be quite sure that either she is too good to associate with you or you are too good to associate with her.

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