Saturday September 25, 2021’s Smile of the Day: Smoking
On this Day:
In 1878, British physician Dr. Charles Drysdale warned against the use of tobacco in a letter to The Times newspaper in one of the earliest public health announcements on the dangers of smoking. However the controversy over smoking, together with the admonishment of the same, have been aflame for far longer.
Smoking is a practice in which a substance is burned and the resulting smoke is breathed in to be tasted and absorbed into the bloodstream. Most commonly, the substance used is the dried leaves of the tobacco plant, which have been rolled into a small rectangle of rolling paper to create a small, round cylinder called a “cigarette”. Smoking is primarily practised as a route of administration for recreational drug use because the combustion of the dried plant leaves vaporizes and delivers active substances into the lungs where they are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and reach bodily tissue. In the case of cigarette smoking these substances are contained in a mixture of aerosol particles and gases and include the pharmacologically active alkaloid nicotine; the vaporization creates heated aerosol and gas into a form that allows inhalation and deep penetration into the lungs where absorption into the bloodstream of the active substances occurs. In some cultures, smoking is also carried out as a part of various rituals, where participants use it to help induce trance-like states that, they believe, can lead them to spiritual enlightenment.
Smoking is one of the most common forms of recreational drug use. Tobacco smoking is the most popular form, being practised by over one billion people globally, of whom the majority are in the developing countries. Less common drugs for smoking include cannabis and opium. Some of the substances are classified as hard narcotics, like heroin, but the use of these is very limited as they are usually not commercially available. Cigarettes are primarily industrially manufactured but also can be hand-rolled from loose tobacco and rolling paper. Other smoking implements include pipes, cigars, bidis, hookahs, and bongs.
Smoking can be dated to as early as 5000 BCE, and has been recorded in many different cultures across the world. Early smoking evolved in association with religious ceremonies; as offerings to deities, in cleansing rituals or to allow shamans and priests to alter their minds for purposes of divination or spiritual enlightenment. After the European exploration and conquest of the Americas, the practice of smoking tobacco quickly spread to the rest of the world. In regions like India and Sub-Saharan Africa, it merged with existing practices of smoking (mostly of cannabis). In Europe, it introduced a new type of social activity and a form of drug intake which previously had been unknown.
Perception surrounding smoking has varied over time and from one place to another: holy and sinful, sophisticated and vulgar, a panacea and deadly health hazard.
In the last decade of the 20th century, smoking came to be viewed in a decidedly negative light, especially in Western countries. Smoking generally has negative health effects, because smoke inhalation inherently poses challenges to various physiologic processes such as respiration. Smoking tobacco is among the leading causes of many diseases such as lung cancer, heart attack, COPD, erectile dysfunction, and birth defects. Diseases related to tobacco smoking have been shown to kill approximately half of long-term smokers when compared to average mortality rates faced by non-smokers. Smoking caused over five million deaths a year from 1990 to 2015. The health hazards of smoking have caused many countries to institute high taxes on tobacco products, publish advertisements to discourage use, limit advertisements that promote use, and provide help with quitting for those who do smoke.
Charles Robert Drysdale (1829 – 2 December 1907) was an English engineer, physician, public health scientist, and supporter of birth control. He was the first President of the Malthusian League and he published books on a variety of topics including population control, syphilis, the evils of prostitution and the dangers of tobacco smoking.
Drysdale was one of the earliest campaigners against tobacco smoking. In a letter to The Times newspaper in 1878 to say ‘I think that the use of tobacco is one of the most evident of all the retrograde influences of our time.’ and ‘The use of tobacco is one of the most evident of all the retrograde influences of our time. It invades all classes, destroys social life, and is turning, in the words of Mantegazza, the whole of Europe into a cigar divan.’
However, the anti-tobacco movement had started long before. In 1798, Dr. Benjamin Rush (early American physician, signer of the Declaration of Independence, Surgeon General under George Washington, and anti-tobacco activist) was “against the habitual use of tobacco” because he believed it (a) “led to a desire for strong drink,” (b) “was injurious both to health and morals,” (c) “is generally offensive to” nonsmokers, (d) “produces a want of respect for” nonsmokers, and (e) “always disposes to unkind and unjust behavior towards them.”
With the modernization of cigarette production compounded with the increased life expectancies during the 1920s, adverse health effects began to become more prevalent. In Germany, anti-smoking groups, often associated with anti-liquor groups, first published advocacy against the consumption of tobacco in the journal Der Tabakgegner (The Tobacco Opponent) in 1912 and 1932. In 1929, Fritz Lickint of Dresden, Germany, published a paper containing formal statistical evidence of a lung cancer–tobacco link. During the Great Depression, Adolf Hitler condemned his earlier smoking habit as a waste of money, and later with stronger assertions. This movement was further strengthened with Nazi reproductive policy as women who smoked were viewed as unsuitable to be wives and mothers in a German family.
The movement in Nazi Germany did reach across enemy lines during the Second World War, as anti-smoking groups quickly lost popular support.[clarification needed] By the end of the Second World War, American cigarette manufacturers quickly reentered the German black market. Illegal smuggling of tobacco became prevalent, and leaders of the Nazi anti-smoking campaign were assassinated. As part of the Marshall Plan, the United States shipped free tobacco to Germany; with 24,000 tons in 1948 and 69,000 tons in 1949. Per capita yearly cigarette consumption in post-war Germany steadily rose from 460 in 1950 to 1,523 in 1963. By the end of the 20th century, anti-smoking campaigns in Germany were unable to exceed the effectiveness of the Nazi-era climax in the years 1939–41 and German tobacco health research was described by Robert N. Proctor as “muted”.
In the UK and the US, an increase in lung cancer rates, formerly “among the rarest forms of disease”, was noted by the 1930s, but its cause remained unknown and even the credibility of this increase was sometimes disputed as late as 1950. For example, in Connecticut, reported age-adjusted incidence rates of lung cancer among males increased 220% between 1935–39 and 1950–54. In the UK, the share of lung cancer among all cancer deaths in men increased from 1.5% in 1920 to 19.7% in 1947. Nevertheless, these increases were questioned as potentially caused by increased reporting and improved methods of diagnosis. Although several carcinogens were already known at the time (for example, benzo[a]pyrene was isolated from coal tar and demonstrated to be a potent carcinogen in 1933), none were known to be contained in adequate quantities in tobacco smoke. Richard Doll in 1950 published research in the British Medical Journal showing a close link between smoking and lung cancer. Four years later, in 1954 the British Doctors Study, a study of some 40 thousand doctors over 20 years, confirmed the link, based on which the government issued advice that smoking and lung cancer rates were related. In 1964 the United States Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health demonstrated the relationship between smoking and cancer. Further reports confirmed this link in the 1980s and concluded in 1986 that passive smoking was also harmful.
As scientific evidence mounted in the 1980s, tobacco companies claimed contributory negligence as the adverse health effects were previously unknown or lacked substantial credibility. Health authorities sided with these claims up until 1998, from which they reversed their position. The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, originally between the four largest US tobacco companies and the Attorneys General of 46 states, restricted certain types of tobacco advertisement and required payments for health compensation; which later amounted to the largest civil settlement in United States history.
From 1965 to 2006, rates of smoking in the United States have declined from 42% to 20.8%. A significant majority of those who quit were professional, affluent men. Despite this decrease in the prevalence of consumption, the average number of cigarettes consumed per person per day increased from 22 in 1954 to 30 in 1978. This paradoxical event suggests that those who quit smoked less, while those who continued to smoke moved to smoke more light cigarettes. This trend has been paralleled by many industrialized nations as rates have either leveled-off or declined. In the developing countries, however, tobacco consumption continues to rise at 3.4% in 2002. In Africa, smoking is in most areas considered to be modern, and many of the strong adverse opinions that prevail in the West receive much less attention. Today Russia leads as the top consumer of tobacco followed by Indonesia, Laos, Ukraine, Belarus, Greece, Jordan, and China.
At the global scale, initial ideas of an international convention towards the prevention of tobacco had been initiated in the World Health Assembly (WHA) in 1996. In 1998, along with the successful election of Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland as the Director-General, the World Health Organization set tobacco control as its leading health concern and began a program known as the Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI) in order to reduce rates of consumption in the developing world. However, it was not until 2003 that the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) was accepted in WHA and entered into force in 2005. FCTC marked a milestone as the first international treaty concerning a global health issue that aims to combat tobacco in multiple aspects including tobacco taxes, advertisement, trading, environmental effects, health influences, etc. The birth of this evidence-based and systematic approach has resulted in the reinforcement of tobacco taxes and the implementation of smoke-free laws in 128 countries that led to the decrease of smoking prevalence in developing nations (per Wikipedia).
First, a Story:
Doctor to patient: “Do you smoke?”
Doctor: “Cannabis, cigarettes, cigars, pipes, Vapes..?
Patient: “No, mostly brisket and pork ribs.”
Second, a Song:
Boston is an American rock band from namesake Boston, Massachusetts, that had its most notable successes during the 1970s and 1980s. The band’s core members on their most popular recordings included multi-instrumentalist founder and leader Tom Scholz, who played the majority of instruments on the debut album, and lead vocalist Brad Delp, among a number of other musicians who varied from album to album. Boston’s best-known songs include “More Than a Feeling”, “Peace of Mind”, “Foreplay/Long Time”, “Rock and Roll Band”, “Smokin'”, “Don’t Look Back”, “A Man I’ll Never Be”, and “Amanda”. The band has sold more than 75 million records worldwide, including 31 million albums in the United States, of which 17 million were from its self-titled debut album and seven million were for its second album, Don’t Look Back, making the group one of the world’s best-selling artists. Altogether, the band has released six studio albums over a career spanning over 46 years. Boston was ranked the 63rd best hard rock artist by VH1.
After Delp’s death in 2007, a number of other vocalists have taken the stage; currently the lead singer is Tommy DeCarlo. Other current members of the band include multi-instrumentalist and singer Beth Cohen, guitarist Gary Pihl, bassist Tracy Ferrie, drummer Jeff Neal and percussionist Curly Smith.
Tom Scholz first started writing music in 1969 while he was attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he wrote an instrumental, titled “Foreplay”. While attending MIT, Scholz joined the band Freehold, where he met guitarist Barry Goudreau and drummer Jim Masdea, who would later become members of Boston. Vocalist Brad Delp was added to the collective in 1970. After graduating with a master’s degree, Scholz worked for Polaroid, using his salary to build a recording studio in his basement, and to finance demo tapes recorded in professional recording studios. These early demo tapes were recorded with (at various times) Delp on vocals, Goudreau on guitar, Masdea on drums, and Scholz on guitar, bass and keyboards. The demo tapes were sent to record companies, but received consistent rejections. In 1973 Scholz formed the band Mother’s Milk with Delp, Goudreau, and Masdea. That group disbanded by 1974, but Scholz subsequently worked with Masdea and Delp to produce six new demos, including “More Than a Feeling”, “Peace of Mind”, “Rock and Roll Band”, “Something About You” (then entitled “Life Isn’t Easy”), “Hitch a Ride” (then entitled “San Francisco Day”), and “Don’t Be Afraid”. Scholz stated they finished four of the six by the end of 1974, and they finished “More Than a Feeling” and “Something About You” in 1975. Scholz played all the instruments on the demos, except for the drums, which were played by Masdea, and used self-designed pedals to create the desired guitar sounds.
This final demo tape attracted the attention of promoters Paul Ahern and Charlie McKenzie. Masdea left the band around this time. According to Scholz, the managers insisted that Masdea had to be replaced before the band could get a recording deal. Years later, Delp told journalist Chuck Miller: “[Jim] actually told me he was losing interest in playing drums. I know Tom felt very bad when the whole thing happened. And then, of course, we started getting some interest.” Scholz and Delp signed a deal with Epic Records after Masdea’s departure, thanks to Ahern and McKenzie. Before the deal could be finalized, the band had to do a live audition for the record company executives. The duo recruited Goudreau on guitar, bassist Fran Sheehan and drummer Sib Hashian to create a performing unit which could replicate Scholz’s richly layered recordings on stage. The showcase was a success and the band agreed to put out ten albums over the next six years.
In addition to the firing of Masdea, the record label insisted that Scholz re-record the demo tapes in a professional studio. However, Scholz wanted to record them in his basement studio so that he could work at his own pace. Scholz and producer John Boylan hatched a plan to send the rest of the band to Los Angeles to make the record label happy, while Scholz recorded most of Boston’s debut album at home, with Masdea playing drums on the track “Rock and Roll Band” and Scholz playing the other instruments. The multitrack tapes were then brought to Los Angeles, where Delp added vocals and the album was mixed by Boylan. It was then that the band was named “Boston”, by suggestion of Boylan and engineer Warren Dewey.
“Smokin'” is a song by the American rock band Boston, released as the B-side to the band’s first single, “More Than a Feeling”. Like most of the tracks from the group’s debut album, it has become a staple on classic rock radio. It has also been covered by other bands, including Anthrax.
Here is a mashup of some of the most smoking hot dance clips from the movies, set to “Smokin” by Boston, put together by Просто Прохожий. I hope you enjoy this! Incidentally, try to recognize all the different movies…how many can you name?
Thought for the Day:
“Smoking is one of the leading causes of statistics.” – Fletcher Knebel
Have a great day!
Dave & Colleen
© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky