"The banality of good health"


Too-infrequent Reason contributor A.S. Hamrah takes a look at several new books on cigarettes, and comes up with a conclusion sure to make the Surgeon General cough up a lung:

The principle lesson of "Smoke" may be that wherever tobacco has been smoked it has also been railed against, massively taxed and banned. At the same time as the kabuki-mono were wreaking havoc on Japanese mores, King James I was trying to stamp out the mania for tobacco in England, claiming that it made its users unfit servants of the state. (Smoking, he wrote in his 1604 tract "A Counterblaste to Tobacco," was "a custom lothsome to the eye, hatefull to the Nose, harmefull to the braine, dangerous to the Lungs, and in the blacke stinking fume thereof, neerest resembling the horrible Stigian smoke of the pit that is bottomelesse.") To help them break their habit, James increased the tobacco tax 4,000 percent. That these earlier smoking restrictions never lasted may provide cold comfort to smokers already shivering outside while their drinks get warm inside, but the fact is that even when the punishment for smoking was execution, people from cultures across the globe continued to do it.

So light up for liberty, and let's all try to use the word "Counterblaste" more often in our daily lives. (Smoking-woman fetishists may also appreciate the pic of a ciggy-wielding Rita Hayworth attached to the article, which can be read in its entirety here.)