Posted by: Mark | January 4, 2014

The First (Probably) Anti-Smoking Campaign

Recently Cracked.com posted an article titled “The 23 Most Surprising (True) Facts About Awful People” which claimed that Hitler was the first individual to campaign against smoking.

I know I read a passage of Tolstoy that equated smoking with early death but I’m not nearly motivated enough to go searching his collected works.

I did find a reference in George W. Stimpson’s Why Do Some Shoes Squeak and 568 Other Popular Questions Answered (New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1984) that went back even further.

According to Stimpson, Rodrigo de Jerez was the first European to smoke tobacco, accompanied Columbus, and returned to Spain with it. His wife denounced him to the Inquisition for exhaling smoke and fire.

Francisco Fernandes, a doctor of King Philip II of Spain, was the first to bring the entire plant to Europe in 1558. Sir John Hawkins brought tobacco to England in 1589, causing the future King James I to write the first (or at least the first recorded) anti-smoking campaign, called Counterblast to Tobacco.

I’m not sure if you can count the Inquisition as a true campaign against smoking but there’s no denying King James.

Curiously, Cracked lumped Margaret Thatcher among Hitler, Charles Manson, Gaddafi, and other awful people. I suspect there might have been some editorial laxity with said article.

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