Tobaccoism: “Rapidity in the Spread of a Disease-Producing Vice”

By Danielle Aloia, Special Projects Librarian

SmokeoutLogoThe third Thursday of November was designated the Great American Smokeout back in 1976. Since then it has gained national attention and helped precipitate smoke-free policies in public spaces and workplaces. It is a day to commit to quitting smoking with the theory that if you can last one day without lighting up, then you can last a lifetime.

Efforts to end tobacco consumption have a long history. Cigarettes grew in popularity during the 1850s, in tandem with the rise of Antitobaccoism movement.1 This movement was taken on by Seventh-day Adventists, whose most outspoken figure was Dr. John Harvey Kellogg.

John Harvey Kellogg, MD (1852– 1943). E. E. Doty, photographer. Source. Prints and Photographs Collection, History of Medicine Division, National Library of Medicine.

John Harvey Kellogg, MD (1852– 1943). E. E. Doty, photographer. Source. Prints and Photographs Collection, History of Medicine Division, National Library of Medicine.

The Adventists believed in a healthful lifestyle, including abstinence from coffee, alcohol, tea, and tobacco. Kellogg termed this “biologic living.”2 He and his compatriots established the American Health and Temperance Association in 1878 to expose the health risks of tobacco and other stimulants. Later, he became a member of the Committee of Fifty to Study the Tobacco Problem, presumably established after the First World War, when a “condition known as ‘soldiers’ heart’” affected British veterans.3 Kellogg also established a hydrotherapy sanitarium and wrote numerous books on healthful living. Today he is best remembered as the co-founder of Kellogg’s, a cereal company that grew out of his sanitarium’s dietary work.

Kellogg wrote Tobaccoism, or How Tobacco Kills in 1922, citing prior studies to document the ill-effects of tobacco on the biological system. This exhaustive account may be the result of his work on the Committee. Tobaccoism likely led Utah Senator Reed Smoot to introduce a bill into Congress including tobacco regulation into the scope of the Food and Drug Act of 1929, an effort that ultimately failed.4

Included in the book are some horrific images of the effects of tobacco on the human body. Unfortunately, the images are not sourced and it is hard to determine their derivation. In the text for the section “Damage Tobacco Does to the Liver,” Kellogg references, among others, a Graziani who showed “tobacco causes changes in the liver, particularly hemorrhages and areas of necrosis.” Part of the text of “Tobacco Cancer” reads: “Dr. Bloodgood, Professor of Surgery in Johns Hopkins University, in the study of 200 cases of cancer of the lip, finds smoking a common factor.”

Kellogg, John Harvey. Tobaccoism or How Tobacco Kills. Battle Creek, MI: Modern Medicine Publishing; 1922.

Kellogg, John Harvey. Tobaccoism, or How Tobacco Kills. Battle Creek, MI: Modern Medicine Publishing; 1922.

Kellogg gave figures for the growth in the tobacco habit by manufactured cigarettes per year, via the Census Bureau (the large increase in production from 1910 to 1920 has a lot to do with the First World War, when soldiers received unrestricted cigarette rations):

1902—2,971,360,447
1906—4,511,997,137
1910—8,644,557,090
1920—62,000,000,000

According to Kellogg, this meant there were 460 cigarettes for every man, woman, and child, a disturbing “rapidity in the spread of a disease-producing vice.”5 He wrote Tobaccoism in part to slow this growth by making sure people understood that tobacco was harmful and its effects irreversible.

Even with a long history of Antitobaccoism, smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., with 443,000 deaths annually.6 In 2011, there were over 290 billion cigarettes sold.7

There’s no better time to quit smoking than right now.

References

1. Reducing Tobacco Use. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2000. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/2000/complete_report/pdfs/chapter2.pdf.

2. Marino RV. Tobaccoism revisited. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2003;103(3):120-121.

3 Lock, S. (ed.), Reynolds, L.A. (ed.), Tansey, E.M. (ed.). Ashes to Ashes: The History of Smoking and Health. Amsterdam: Rodopi; 1998.

4. Fee, Elizabeth, Brown, Theodore M. John Harvey Kellogg, MD: Health Reformer and Antismoking Crusader. American journal of public health 2002;92(6):935. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1447485/pdf/0920935.pdf.

5. Kellogg, John Harvey. Tobaccoism or How Tobacco Kills. Battle Creek, MI: Modern Medicine Publishing; 1922.

6. Broken Promises to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement Fifteen Years Later. Washington, DC: Tobacco-Free Kids; 2013:87. Available at: http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/content/what_we_do/state_local_issues/settlement/FY2014/StateSettlementReport_FY2014.pdf.

7. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Economic Facts About U.S. Tobacco Production and Use. Smoking and Tobacco Use 2014. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/economics/econ_facts/index.htm#sales.

3 thoughts on “Tobaccoism: “Rapidity in the Spread of a Disease-Producing Vice”

  1. Pingback: Uncooked Foods and How to Use Them: A History of the Raw Food Diet | Books, Health and History

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