History of smoking — wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In the 19th century, smoking opium became common. Previously it had only been eaten, and then primarily for its medical properties. A massive increase in opium smoking in China was more or less directly instigated by the British trade deficit with Qing dynasty China. As a way to amend this problem, the British began exporting large amounts of opium grown in the Indian colonies.

The social problems and the large net loss of currency led to several Chinese attempts to stop the imports, which eventually culminated in the First and Second Opium Wars. Opium smoking later spread with Chinese immigrants and spawned many infamous opium dens in China towns around South and Southeast Asia and Europe.

In the latter half of the 19th century, opium smoking became popular in the artistic community in Europe, especially Paris in artists’ neighborhoods such as and Montparnasse and Montmartre being virtual opium capitals. While opium dens that catered primarily to emigrant Chinese continued to exist in China Towns around the world, the trend among the European artists largely abated after the outbreak of World War I. 21

Social stigma edit Early opposition edit

Ever since smoking was introduced outside of the Americas, there has been much vehement opposition to it. Arguments ranged from socio economic, with tobacco called a usurper of good farm land to purely moralistic, where many religiously devout individuals saw tobacco as another form of immoral intoxication. Many arguments were presented to the effect that smoking was harmful, and even if the critics were in the end right about many of their claims, the complaints were usually not based on scientific arguments, and if they were, these often relied on humorism and other pre modern scientific methods.

Dr Eleazar Duncon, 1606, wrote 22 that tobacco » so hurtful and dangerous to youth that it might have the pernicious nation expressed in the name, and that it were as well known by the name of Youths bane as by the name of tobacco.»

Early 17th century descriptive notices of various characteristic types and fashions of men portray tobacconists and smokers as individuals who suffer from false self images and mistaken illusions about the properties of tobacco taking. 23 Though physicians such as Benjamin Rush claimed tobacco use (including smoking) negatively impacted health as far back as 1798, 24 not until the early 20th century did researchers begin to conduct serious medical studies.

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