Smoking: People will always smoke



1801 Navy Journal: Tobacco Smoke Saves Lives
Smoke, Brandy Credited With Saving Sailor

MARIA CHENG, AP Medical Writer
September 29, 2010

LONDON — For some 19th-century British navy surgeons, reviving men who nearly drowned after falling overboard required what is now a rather unorthodox treatment: tobacco smoke.

The treatment is documented in an 1801 journal, one of more than 1,000 navy medical officers’ reports released Thursday by Britain’s National Archives. From drunken mutinies to disease outbreaks to a walrus attack, the journals paint a colorful picture of 18th- and 19th-century ship life.

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.

“It all sounds pretty bad now, but they thought of tobacco smoke as a stimulant and that it might get the heart going again,” said Daniel Gilfoyle, a diplomatic and colonial records specialist at the National Archives.

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. “But tobacco is still pretty bad stuff.”

Other dangers were more immediate. In an 1824 journal from a ship sailing in the Arctic, assistant surgeon William Leyson describes how the boat was attacked by a herd of walruses. Sailors warded them off by firing their muskets and beating the animals with their bayonets.

The journals also reveal some disturbing experiments that may have involved rape. On one ship in Portsmouth Harbour, a surgeon named D. Cowan tried to find out how the sexually transmitted diseases syphilis and gonorrhea were spread by having an officer establish repeated “connexions” with an infected young woman.

Navy surgeons also frequently sketched their patients, including the legs of scurvy-scarred sailors, broken limbs after drunken fights, and syphilis-infected eyeballs.

Treatments were largely limited to mercury compounds, hot compresses, alcohol like rum or brandy, and crude surgery without anesthesia.

Spiro said advances in medicine meant 21st-century health care might one day seem as archaic as the 19th-century tobacco smoke remedy. “We may be doing some pretty daft things, but we won’t know that until somebody comes along with something better.”

U. of I. prof clears the air on history of smoking

December 19, 2004
BY DAVE NEWBART Staff Reporter Advertisement

People will always smoke, says Sander Gilman.

No matter how much effort is put into stopping it, smoking of all substances — tobacco, marijuana, other drugs — continues.

“We’ve always lived in a culture of smoke,” said Gilman, a professor of liberal arts and medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago and co-editor of a new book on smoking. “People have smoked forever, all over the world, for different reasons, in different contexts, for different purposes.”

Gilman’s book, Smoke: A Global History of Smoking, was released Friday by Reaktion Books and is being distributed by the University of Chicago Press. The 408-page book is a collection of chapters written by experts on smoking throughout the ages and the world, from the ancient Mayans to Victorian opium dens to mass smoking in China today.

A cultural phenomenon

Gilman, a former smoker who stopped two decades ago, edited the book to explore what he sees as a cultural phenomenon that has spanned the millennia. He said no other book has taken as comprehensive a look at smoking of all forms.

“The smoking of tobacco has shaped invention and culture, capturing the imagination like nothing else in history,” Gilman and his co-editor, Zhou Xun, write.

A bold statement, but Gilman and Xun, a research fellow at the University of London, include hundreds of images of smoking in literature, art, cinema and advertising over the years attesting to smoking’s “magic.”

Smoking originated in the Americas as early as 5,000 B.C., the book’s introduction states. It was used in Mayan religious ceremonies and believed to have healing properties. The Aztecs regarded it as the incarnation of a goddess that offered protection from witchcraft and wild animals, such as scorpions and snakes.

Columbus is generally credited with spreading tobacco to the rest of the world. He brought it back to Spain, and it quickly spread throughout Europe. It was believed to have medicinal properties, helping clear the mind and cure syphilis, among other benefits.

It inspired many books. Peter Pan author James Barrie, the subject of the movie “Finding Neverland,” also wrote, My Lady Nicotine: A Study in Smoke.

“With the introduction of tobacco, England woke up from a long sleep,” Barrie wrote in 1896. “Suddenly a new zest had been given to life.”

Bans don’t stick

In the U.S., the labor movement has its roots in smoking: cigar workers were the first to form a u nion, Gilman said.

Some of the most effective art of the last century came in the form of cigarette ads, including a famous campaign by Lucky Strike, he said.

The Chinese began smoking tobacco after trading with Spaniards. They now represent the biggest market for tobacco, Gilman said.

The book also deals with smoking’s ills, and looks at art in anti-smoking advertising. Smoking bans are not new. England’s King James I condemned smoking in 1604 as “barbarous and beastly.” Many other leaders have followed, but the bans don’t stick or are violated.

Gilman, currently a visiting professor at Oxford, finds it intriguing that as England debates whether to ban smoking in public — as Ireland has done — it also is liberalizing laws on smoking marijuana. He thinks there’s a fine line between protecting health and overregulation, which can have an opposite effect. “The more you make it taboo, the more it becomes attractive to certain people in society,” he said, especially youths. “You can’t simply tell people it’s bad and it will go away, because it won’t.”

Eugene Umberger, a museum curator in Green Bay who collects books on smoking and wrote a chapter for the book, said, “There is something mysterious about smoking, something that mankind takes to and enjoys.”
Also Wrote, “A New Germany in a New Europe”


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