Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Tobacco Problem (1882), 6th ed., by Meta Lander, An Early Exposé of Tobacco Hazards

The Tobacco Problem (1882), 6th ed., by Meta Lander, An Early Exposé of Tobacco Hazards:

In bringing out the present edition of "The Tobacco Problem," I desire to say that, while I have taken tobacco for my text, I have included all other narcotics, especially those used, at first, under medical prescription and continued until the servant becomes, not only a master, but a tyrant.
I wish also to acknowledge the great kindness with which my book has been received, even by many devotees of the weed. I had hardly expected such a degree of sufferance. It is true that, outspoken as I have been, I have set down naught in malice, and have aimed to avoid unfair and unwarranted statements. Yet I am aware that it is well-nigh impossible for one with strong convictions as to the use of narcotics, to write a treatise on the subject which will not seem, perhaps to a large class, unreasonable and extravagant, if not absurd.
Judging from the indications, the majority in Church and State are against me. Again and again have I been told that I injure the cause by demanding too much; that it is the abuse and not the proper use of tobacco against which I should direct my efforts.
The same charges have long been rung against

those who plead for total abstinence from intoxicating liquors. Such persons assert that temperance means "the moderate use of all these good things;" that it is really intemperance to insist on entire abstinence.
I can only reply that in many cases the tobacco users with whom I have conversed frankly concede that the habit, however limited, is not only foolish but injurious, and that they wish themselves well rid of it.
On the other hand, not a few insist that their use of tobacco is moderate, even when physicians and friends are alarmed by their excessive indulgence. It is very hard for such smokers, perhaps indeed for smokers generally, to admit that they smoke too much. Is not this an evidence that the tobacco habit impairs the judicial faculty?
I have discussed this subject with more than one excellent clergyman who assert that their temperate use of the "divine weed" is not only harmless, but really beneficial. May I not respectfully refer back the subject to these preachers of self-denial for a fuller consideration?
That there may not be exceptions to the rule governing the habitual use of narcotics, I dare not insist. But if such exceptions exist, are they not so rare that they may almost be regarded as strengthening the general rule?

Totally apart, however, from the more or less injurious results, physical and intellectual, of the tobacco habit, arises the question whether, in an

ethical view, the yielding to such a habit is worthy of one's better self—is not, indeed, a lowering of the moral tone.

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