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THE COST, JOYS, AND WOES OF SMOKING.
ON'T be frightened, courteous reader, with the well-worn words at starting. Blessed be the man who invented sleep!' exclaims Sancho; but still more blessed the inventor of smoking, which enables us to sleep with our eyes open.' Such is the averment of one who styles himself a veteran smoker. But what philosopher can sleep over the astounding fact that the smoking of the British community costs, according to the last financial statement, for taxation alone, the prodigious yearly sum of six millions five hundred and forty-two thousand two hundred and fifty pounds, nine shillings, and elevenpence! That was the exact sum from 1867 to 1868. In the previous financial year it was 6,455,011l. 98. 10d.; thus showing an increase of 87,2391. os. 1d. Taking the population of Great Britain in the middle of last year, as stated by the Registrar-General, as 30,369,845, and knowing that the excise duty is at least four times as much as the trade value of the article, it seems that the cost of smoking and snuffing in Great Britain is about 55. 4d. per head of the populationmen, women, and children- per annum; that is to say, considerably more than one pound of tobacco allotted to each man, woman, and child of the population. 'realize,' as the Americans say, the significance of this prodigious expenditure, we may state that it would supply an income of 600l. per annum to 13,629 families; an income of 300l. per annum to 27,358; an income of 100l. per annum to 81,774; and an income of 50l. per annum to 163,548 familiesthe probable cost of tobacco, as sold to the public, being about 8,177,8127.
Impressive as must be this great resultant of our smoking propensity, it becomes still greater when we include in the item the necessary concomitants. First, there is the cost of pipes. Thousands of pipe-makers throughout the kingdom flourish in the smoke of to
bacco. It is impossible to give any precise value to this item of smoking expenditure; but the income of pipe-makers cannot be less than 50l. per annum, and it may be much more. The cost of the ordinary clay pipe stands mostly to the account of the publican; and in the numerous suburbs of the metropolis, and in country places, the publicans give away from eighty to one hundred gross of pipes per annum, at the probable value of at least rol.; but then comes the great item of fancy pipes,' as sold by the tobacconists. The meerschaum (and its imitations) holds the first rank in the smoker's expenditure; and the prices vary from a few shillings to many pounds. Briar-root, or other wooden pipes, although less expensive in the original cost, still swell the item by their little dura'bility and want of care in their preservation. The habitual smoker must have his tobacco-pouch. With regard to this item some idea may be formed of the number of smokers in England from the fact that the patentee of the original india-rubber tobacco-pouch amassed a fortune and retired in the course of some ten or twelve years.
So far we have been considering the cost of smoking to the mass of the community-those who may be said to smoke as workers; but there is a large class besides, of whom we occasionally read in the papers, who may be said to cultivate smoking as a fine art, or the speciality of a fine gentleman-young men who pay twenty-five guineas for a cigar-case, and who would be ashamed to puff a cigar for which they had paid or been credited for' less than one shilling. It is obvious that these items must swell the annual cost of smoking by many thousands of pounds sterling. But the make-up of a smoker is incomplete without the means of getting a light ad libitum; and the great variety of fusees supplies the desideratum. The annual cost of this item, like that of pipes, it is impos
sible to come at; but, obviously, it cannot be inconsiderable, although made up of small outlays; indeed, perhaps the smallness of outlay, in most cases, should induce a suspicion that a great deal more is expended than we imagine; and this remark applies to the cost of spills or pipe-lights, spittoons, and cigar-holders-the latter having been invented, we suppose, for the purpose of economizing the weed, as it enables the smoker to secure complete combustion, or a holocaust-losing, however, the pleasure of savouring the precious morsel; indeed, smoking a cigar through a tube may be compared to kissing your sweetheart through a respirator. Thus, then, the real annual cost of smoking must greatly exceed even the large sum above stated; indeed, we fear that it cannot be set down at less than ten millions sterling per annum.
However, we will confine the inquiry to the positive sum of 8,177,812l., giving 58. 4d. per head of the entire population per annum. Now, the smokers of the United Kingdom are obviously in the minority of the population; so that here must be an enormous individual consumption of tobacco in some shape or other to account for this vast expenditure. It would be a valuable fact to ascertain the number of smokers and snuff-takers in the United Kingdom, with a view to the discovery of the physiological consequences of the practice; and this item might be usefully required in the next census of the population. But inquiries which we have made from tobacconists satisfy us that the largely preponderating consumers of tobacco, by smoking, snuffing, and chewing, are the working classes. Among these twelve to fourteen ounces of tobacco a week is an average consumption; that is to say, at a cost of not less than three shillings a week, or, roundly, say 87. per annum. It is easy to see from this figure how the hundreds and thousands of our tobacco expenditure mount up and make up the vast sum before us. At this rate a dozen of them would spend
on tobacco about 100l. per annum ; and one hundred and twenty will waste in tobacco smoke 1000l. a year. Among our tradesmen the figure diminishes, and perhaps it may be set down at about four ounces of tobacco smoked per week, which, estimated at the same lowest cost, will be 27. 128. per annum. Many of this class smoke much more, and even indulge in the more expensive luxury of cigars; so that, all the opportunities considered, it seems probable that this class of smokers, although fewer in numbers, may, after all, vie with the former in the consumption of tobacco. That the productive, labouring, or working classes are the chief supporters of the revenue from tobacco is evident from the fact that, in the last fiscal year-a time of pressure and privation on the working classes-the duty on tobacco has fallen off by 41,000l.! This we believe to have been the first instance proving a decline in the consumption of tobacco 'from time immemorial.' If the personal expenditure of the higher classes be not absolutely so great as that of the lowest, it must still be considered that in their entertainments a supply of tobacco or cigars is generally deemed essential; and therefore the annual cost of smoking may be to them even greater than that of the lowest. There is, doubtless, much in all this to make us thoughtful with regard to our own country; but it appears that the account of tobacco smoking is much greater in other countries. In Hamburg, it is said that 40,000 cigars are smoked daily in a population whose adult males scarcely amount to 45,000 individuals—a fact which seems incredible. France it is about 18 oz. per head, three-eighths of this quantity being used in the form of snuff. France originated snuff-taking, and England followed her example; but the practice has vastly diminished in this country of late years, and seems to be entirely on the decline.
In Denmark the consumption of tobacco is not less than 70 oz., or 4 lbs. per head of the population; and in Belgium it averages 73 OZ., or 43 lbs. per head. In some of the
North American States the proportion greatly exceeds these quantities, whilst among Eastern nations it is believed to be still greater. The average consumption of tobacco by the whole human race of 1000 millions is, at the present time, at least 70 oz., or 4 lbs. 6 oz. a head -the total quantity consumed being at least two millions of tons, or 4,480 millions of pounds.
One incontestable fact is, that the consumption of tobacco keeps pace with the growth of populations all the world over; and there is reason to believe that the above-stated consumption is rather less than the actual quantity.
In the presence of this modern consumption of tobacco it may be curious to call to mind that in former times it seems to have been proportionately much greater. Thirty years after its introduction into England-that is, during the reign of King James I.-the practice of smoking was more general than at the present day, although far more costly: for the king states that some of the gentry bestowed three and some four hundred pounds a year upon that precious stinke'representing a much greater value of the present money; and he lays particular stress upon the interesting fact that the mistress could not in a more mannerly kind entertain her lover than by giving him, out of her fair hand, a pipe of tobacco.'
According to Aubrey, the pipe was handed from man to man round the table, and tobacco was actually sold for its weight in silver.' 'I have heard,' says he, 'some of our old yeoman neighbours say that when they went to Malinesbury or Chippenham they culled their biggest shillings to lay in the scales against the tobacco.'
Some of our mechanics in England literally smoke all day. Not long ago one of them, whose habit was to have a pipe in his mouth all day long, whether filled or not, was found dead in his bed with his pipe in his mouth-the coroner's inquest finding him dead by apoplexy, caused by smoking.' Many of the same class chew tobacco as well as
smoke it, and at the same time; and we are assured by tobacconists that among their customers are boys of all ages down to ten, who not only smoke, but actually chew tobacco, ravenously stuffing a quid into their mouths, as stated to us, before leaving the shop. Many a working man will tell you that he would rather go without his dinner than his pipe; and this is so far the explanation of the mystery, leading us to the next inquiry-concerning the joys of smoking.
Decidedly the introduction of tobacco is a strange fact in the history of civilized man. While civilization advances so slowly, a fetid herb conquered the world in less than two centuries. This rapid and continuous extension is the downright fact which proves that tobacco appeals to the very depths of human nature.
Can it really be said that tobacco only satisfies a fashion, a caprice, an inveterate habit, whilst it is a substance which the workman, the poorest of the land, will get at the cost of real privations, with the pence which they gain by the sweat of their brow? In spite of so many medical observations to the contrary, do these facts justify us in believing with the eminent German physician Knapp, that tobacco exerts a useful influence on the human body and its functions?'
Be that as it may, there is no denying that tobacco responds to that imperious craving after sensation with which man is tormented. The savage of America, in his semistarvation and wretchedness; the soldier in the bivouac, ill-fed perhaps, anxious and weary; the sailor on the deep, in the dull monotony of toil and peril; the effeminate inhabitants of tropical regions, who dread to think under the whelming weight of their burning climate; the idler of our towns; the Turk, enervated by the premature exercise of the reproductive function, and sunk in the double inertia of fatalism and despotism, all make use of tobacco as our dandies use the ballroom and the theatres, as the poet sips coffee (or gin), as the savant gives lectures, all resolves itself into
that grand engine of animalitysensation. Amongst smokers some relish the immediate impression, and enjoy it instinctively like the very air they breathe. Others meditate their sensations. They find in them a source of contentment which lifts them up to the hope or the remembrance of bliss. The periodic action of embracing the cigar with their lips, and expiring its vapour in puffs, rocks their minds to rest. Such being the case, it may be contended that tobacco rises to the rank of a moral modificator, and that thus it must be appreciated-no longer in accordance with its mere chemical constituents, however injurious, or the principles of physiology, demonstrating its adverse physical action-but in the light of moral reactions, which play so important a part in the human hygiene. Wretches who have not eaten bread for a long time beg alms to buy tobacco. A sailor, deprived of his plug for three days, puts into his mouth a ball of tarred oakum, and thanks, with tears in his eyes, the kind surgeon who shares with him a bit of his tobacco. If tobacco has its drawbacks, it has, therefore, its sweets also. To many a man it is the remedy of that disease of civilization which we call ennui. Even the very illusions and erroneous ideas that men entertain concerning tobacco deserve to be respected by the physician. One man attributes to tobacco the facility of his intellectual labour; another cannot digest his food without smoking. All this may provoke a smile, but we must remember that the craving for tobacco is positively the last appetite which leaves those who are in a state of disease, and who have been accustomed to tobacco under one form or another; and that the renewal of this appetite is a favourable prognostic of recovery, as acknowledged and attested by observant physicians, and as every smoker knows by his own experience. To all this, in favour of the practice of smoking, we might add largely quotations from medical men, poets, philosophers, and occasional writers; for the praises of this precious stinke,' as King James called it in
his 'Counterblast,' would fill a stout volume; but still it is a question whether the evil of smoking, in all its bearings, be not far greater than the special good it may have subserved in certain cases. In other words, do not the woes of tobaccosmoking exceed its joys?
At its introduction tobacco was vaunted as a universal remedy for all diseases; soon, however, it was denounced as the cause of almost all the ills that flesh is heir to; and both on the best medical authority of the day. As time wore on the practice of smoking increased with the increase of population, and from time to time the medical profession directed public attention to the growing evil, as they represented it, and not without substantial argument. The last great controversy on smoking occurred in the year 1857, filling the pages of the Lancet' week after week with learned dissertations, capable, it might be thought, to settle the question for ever against the practice, but with no apparent result. The increase of the duty on tobacco, proving its increased consumption progressively, since 1856 amounts to 1,471,862. There exists also an anti-tobacco society, doing its best to abolish the practice both by writing and the eloquent lectures of its director, offering premiums for the best treatise on the consequence of smoking, but all, apparently, to no effect. There seems no probability that this great aid to the national revenue will ever be diminished, excepting under the sheer inability of obtaining the luxury, as during the last year of commercial crisis. Certainly this would be much more consolatory, in the financial point of view, if there were no well-founded misgivings as to the effect of smoking on the health of the community.
The primary objection to smoking, as early announced, is that it deprives the stomach of its salivary juice, most essential for digestion: thus smokers must drink a great deal to supply its place, and consequently tobacco in camps compensates for the scanty rations of the wretched soldiers.' It might be inferred from this that he who smokes
dines,' and therefore a supply of tobacco to the troops might be confidently recommended to all governments, especially when their armies are not in the enemy's territory. A beautiful Parisian lady, apparently with this object, sent thousands of cigars to the French army during the siege of Sebastopol. Doubtless the reader will smile at this important financial and commissariat discovery, but we can assure him that it is really' no joke.' The suggestion is positively supported by one of the most distinguished chemical philosophers of the present day, the celebrated Liebig. It would seem, according to this opinion, that tobacco, when smoked, subserves in the human system a function similar to that of salt in preserving meat from decay, or rather like any other 'smoking' by which hams and bacon are rendered safe from putrefaction. Liebig positively says that tobacco prevents the waste of the tissues' or the flesh, and so a smoker can do more work with less waste, and consequently less requirement of food, than those who do not avail themselves of this admirable substitute for endless mastication, digestion, and in-digestion, all which we must go through to keep body and soul together, adding immensely to the toils of poor humanity. Liebig instances the fact that the smoking North American Indian can go several days without food; and it is on record that shipwrecked sailors on their forlorn raft have outlived their horrors for a week, chewing tobacco. Modern Yankees also go two or three days without eating, when 'hard up,' or 'clean broke,' as they call this dilemma, chewing' tobacco all the while. Doubtless these facts will be consolatory and encouraging to the advocates of tobacco, but they merely prove the adaptation of the human body to bear the privation of food with the aid of some factitious excitement; and we may remark that starvation has been borne for long periods of time without the aid of tobacco in any shape. Besides, the principle involved is unsound in physiology. If the formation of healthy blood be an absolute necessity for health
and vigour, it is evident that this can only be supplied by wholesome food in sufficient quantity, and therefore it is a delusion to believe that the use of tobacco can enable us to dispense with food without detriment to health. Moreover, the very specific action of smoking thus claimed in the above argument seems actually to uphold the opinion that it causes heart disease of a most formidable nature. In the last Report of the Army Medical Department, we read that the surgeon of the 18th Hussars, in India, attributes the large number of cases of heart disease in the various corps to 'the inordinate use of tobacco amongst the men, who appear to be regularly saturated with nicotine.' This is a dismal judgment against smoking; but we submit that saturated with nicotine' is too strong a phrase, and unscientific.
The deadly energy of nicotine is scarcely inferior to that of strychnine, and surely no medical man will talk of people being saturated with strychnine and yet alive! However, there is the fact; and there can be no doubt that smoking is indulged in to an enormous extent in India by our troops and other countrymen, owing to the cheapness of tobacco in that country.
If saturation with nicotine be improbable, it seems possible that the tissues of chewers of tobacco may become saturated with the juice of the weed. Some years ago a British ship was wrecked on the coast of an island in the Pacific, and when the coast was subsequently visited by another vessel the captain was informed by a native that all the crew excepting one was eaten; and on being asked why the one was excepted, he exclaimed-Him taste too much of bakkee.' Whilst this fact may prove the effect of chewing tobacco on the system, it may be consolatory to know that it will prevent the body of a Christian from being interred in the unhallowed stomach of a cannibal. Since the last onslaught against tobacco smoking in England, in 1857, the subject has been at rest, with the exception of the comparatively obscure efforts of the Anti-tobacco