Tobacco's Scandalous Past

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In the last century tobacco has gone from a hallmark of society acceptance to a product on the fringes of legality. As more has been learned about tobacco and its effect on health, the once popular cigarette has fallen into disfavour. Still, many people turn to tobacco in its many forms as a form of enjoyment or a force of habit.


In 1901, "Edward VII, the tobacco-hating queen's son and successor, gathers friends together in a large drawing room at Buckingham Palace...and announces, "Gentlemen, you may smoke" (Borio). Smoking jackets became popular and advertisements glorified the attractiveness of smoking. This was the age when it was fashionable to enjoy a glass of port wine with an elegant after dinner cigar ("History of Smoking"). This sensation swept Great Britain and began the conflict between good health and fashion for the tobacco industry.
Soldiers during World War I were treated to cigarettes in their rations and as they brought the habit home, it gained even greater popularity. According to Borio, one-third of the returning soldiers were addicted to cigarettes. By 1935 the reported cases of lung cancer among cigarette smokers were skyrocketing and in 1938 the first medical report on the ill health effects of tobacco was released by John Hopkins University (Borio, "George Seldes on Tobacco"). By 1948, lung cancer was growing at 5 times the rate of any other cancer and had become the most common form of disease (Borio). Many of the victims of smoking were veterans who had gained the habit during World War I.
The last half of the 20th century witnessed a string of monumental events concerning tobacco. ...
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