- This edition is unique;
- The translation is completely original and was carried out for the Ale. Mar. SAS;
- All rights reserved.
A vice that is now so widespread and so deeply ingrained in the habits of mankind can only be contained and gradually overcome by means of widespread and tenacious propaganda, persuasion and health education. In any case, this must be based on the smoker's desire to break his habit. Where the will is weak, we can come to the rescue, as we shall see, with the adoption of individual remedies and measures of various kinds, which help the smoker to overcome the vice of smoking or at least to considerably mitigate the damage; but these too do not act on their own and do not succeed in achieving the goal in the long term if there is no will to stop smoking. And in order to strengthen the will, it is necessary to persuade people of the danger that smoking poses to human health. Therefore, before talking to you about the remedies that can help you break the habit, we will explain the damage that smoking does to our bodies. However, the proposed work will undoubtedly have its positive effects, helping you to stop smoking, not to start at all, and to limit the damage for those who have no intention of quitting.
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Index of contents
PART ONE - A BIT OF HISTORY AND SOME FIGURES ON THE 'VICE OF THE CENTURY'.
HOW TOBACCO USE CAME ABOUT AND HOW IT SPREAD
HOW AND HOW MUCH PEOPLE SMOKE TODAY
THE TOXIC PRINCIPLES CONTAINED IN TOBACCO
HABIT OR DRUG ADDICTION?
PART TWO - THE DAMAGE CAUSED BY SMOKING
SMOKING AND HEALTH
ACUTE AND CHRONIC TOBACCO USE
SMOKING AND CANCER
THE HARMFUL EFFECTS OF SMOKING ON THE BODY
SMOKING AND PSYCHE
SMOKING AND WOMEN
PART THREE - HOW TO STOP SMOKING (or how to limit the damage)
THE TWO SIDES OF THE FIGHT AGAINST SMOKING
LEGISLATIVE AND SOCIAL PROPHYLAXIS EDUCATION AND REPRESSION
THE WILL NOT TO SMOKE
CHEMICAL MEANS AGAINST SMOKING
PSYCHOTHERAPY FOR SMOKERS
TECHNIQUES AND MEASURES TO LIMIT THE HARM OF SMOKING
A PSYCHOLOGICAL BATTLE
How to overcome the smoking habit
Edition and translation 2021 by Ale.Mar.
The recent investigation by the health authorities in the United States, known as the Terry Report, into the disastrous consequences of tobacco use on the human organism has been widely reported in the world press. These are dramatic conclusions, which have alarmed millions and millions of people. In Italy too, the press and RAI-TV have devoted ample space and interesting debates to the problem of smoking and its dangers.
However, these conclusions, which were reached by a committee of scholars under the leadership of Dr Luther Terry, who had been commissioned by the US government to examine the problem in depth, said nothing surprising or new.
We have known for at least a few decades that smoking is bad, that cigarettes damage the body, that tobacco kills, ever since the first reports on smoking appeared in qualified journals and since scientific statistics revealed the frequency of lung cancer and cardiovascular disease in inveterate smokers.
But the Terry Report has caused an outcry because, for the first time, these serious accusations are being made, from a scientific source, in a public and official form, and with the endorsement of the US government itself. Public opinion has finally reacted. From various parts of the world there are reports of drastic preventive measures taken by various governments against smokers; and a small town has gained worldwide popularity by banning the trade and use of cigarettes with a law passed in no time. Many American radio and television companies decided to suspend the advertising with which the cigarette factories had hitherto supported or spread their business.
In England, a record costing two pounds, in which a popular hypnotist recorded a detoxification cure, is selling like hot cakes. In Denmark, another hypnotist even appeared on television, assuring viewers that all they had to do was stare into his eyes and lend themselves willingly to his suggestions to be cured of the nicotine habit. In some countries, drastic measures are being considered to discourage cigarette smokers, and there is even talk of imposing a three-year prison sentence on offenders.
And that is not all. The issue is now also being discussed from a moral and religious point of view. An American Catholic priest, Father Welsh, has come to the conclusion that the vice of smoking, when one indulges in it for the sake of pleasure without making any appreciable effort to abstain from it, is a venial sin; if, on the other hand, a smoker who has already been warned by a doctor about the dangers of smoking persists in his habit, he is actually committing a mortal sin.
But in the end, apart from these facts that are recorded in the news and many other minor incidents, what will and what can be done to resolve this disturbing problem? We are well aware of the results of an alarm call in such cases. For a few days, or weeks, people are shocked by the dramatic announcement that "tobacco kills", and this becomes the favourite subject of conversation. For a few days or weeks, the ashtrays remain empty and clean, tobacco retailers are left without customers, the shares of cigarette factories (where manufacturing is free) fall dramatically in value. Then, once the hype has died down and the dangers have been forgotten, people start smoking again, as much and more than before.
The 'vice of the century', as smoking has rightly been called, cannot be solved by announcing or implementing drastic measures, which, by their very seriousness, have psychologically damaging and, by way of a backlash, often practically negative effects.
A vice that is now so widespread and so deeply ingrained in the habits of mankind can only be contained and gradually overcome by means of widespread and tenacious propaganda, persuasion and health education. In any case, this must be based on the smoker's desire to break his habit. Where the will is weak, one can come to the rescue, as we shall see, with the adoption of individual remedies and measures of various kinds, which help the smoker to overcome the vice of smoking or at least to considerably mitigate the damage; but these too do not act on their own and do not succeed in achieving the goal in the long term if there is no will to stop smoking.
And to strengthen the will, you have to instil the persuasion of the danger that smoking represents for the health of mankind. So, before we tell you about the remedies that can help you break the habit, let us explain the damage that smoking does to our bodies. These can be summed up in a sentence uttered, somewhat emphatically, by the biochemist Linus Pauling, twice winner of the Nobel Prize: "Cigarettes pose a greater threat to mankind than all the atomic bombs that have so far exploded on earth".
The actual history of tobacco use begins with the discovery of America: the first European documents relating to the plant are contained in the logbook of Christopher Columbus, who, on 13 October 1492, noted that he had received some dried leaves of the plant as a gift from the natives.
The home of tobacco is therefore America. At the time of the continent's discovery and exploration, the mallard herb was commonly used by the natives for a variety of purposes: as a voluptuary, as an important subject for worship and as a medicine in its own right.
Costumes of primitive peoples
As a voluptuary, the habit of smoking, sniffing and chewing pulverised tobacco leaf was especially deep-rooted, while less common forms of the vice were licking the juice and drinking tobacco water.
The ritual use of tobacco was threefold: as a vehicle for magical practices, as an offering to the gods, and as an intoxicating drink. Moreover, tobacco was not only smoked during actual religious ceremonies, but also on other solemn occasions, for example at council meetings and assemblies of chiefs.
It was customary to smoke a pipe in common to conclude a contract, to make peace or to seal a friendship. The 'calumet' of peace, which is still used by the surviving Indian tribes, is an eloquent testimony to the high value placed on tobacco by these peoples.
The ritual use of tobacco was also intended to induce a state of intoxication, which was an excellent means to excite participants in sacred dances and to overcome physical fatigue and pain. And from use for intoxicating purposes to use for therapeutic purposes is a short step.
It is certain that the indigenous peoples of the Americas regarded tobacco as a real medicine, and considered it an effective remedy for pain, hunger, thirst and fatigue.
The prevalence of tobacco use in the world
It would take too long to trace the routes taken by tobacco on its journey around the world. It seems that the first person to introduce tobacco seeds to Europe was Fernando Cortez (1485-1547), the conqueror of the Aztec empire; and that the first to sow and cultivate tobacco in Europe was Francisco Hernandez (1514-1587), the archiater of Philip of Spain.
In France, tobacco was imported and made known by Jean Nicot (1530-1600), the King's ambassador to Portugal, whose name remained linked to the plant and the alkaloid it contains (nicotine). In England, smoking was introduced by Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618), a great explorer and founder of the English colony of Virginia.
Regarding the introduction of tobacco into Italy, it seems that it was brought to Rome from Portugal around 1560 by cardinals and papal nuncios.
The rapid spread of tobacco was essentially determined by two factors: its long-standing therapeutic power and, secondly, its voluptuary use.
For almost a century, in fact, tobacco was known as a universal medicine, and doctors were the most convinced proponents of its therapeutic use. It was thought to possess miraculous curative virtues: the best proof of this are the various names attributed to it, 'herba sancta', 'herba medicea', 'herba panacea'.
Recipes of ointments or potions based on tobacco leaves were prescribed for the treatment of wounds, torpid sores, cancerous ulcers and many other skin lesions. Tobacco syrup was used against chest diseases, stomach aches, kidney stones. Tobacco leaf enemas were recommended against constipation, flatulence, pregnancy and childbirth pains.
A water prepared from tobacco leaves was attributed the power to heal all eye diseases and even completely restore the eyesight of the old. And it was thought that tobacco smoke, penetrating and diffusing itself into the anfractuous cavities of the brain, made its beneficial influence felt in all parts of the body, from head to toe, quelling fever, infusing energy, banishing tiredness and drunkenness, overcoming insomnia and sharpening the spirit.
Only the rationalistic spirit of the 18th century did justice to these fanciful exaggerations, and at the beginning of the century the first writings on the harm caused by tobacco began to appear.
As far as voluptuary use was concerned, the fashion for tobacco spread almost everywhere in similar circumstances and underwent ups and downs: an initial phase of amazement at the pioneers of smoking, a phase of enthusiasm and rapid spread, and finally a phase of violent reaction, in which the new habit was condemned and described as vicious, disgusting, unhealthy, dangerous and unreasonably wasteful.
However, all campaigns against the vice remained unsuccessful, whether they were inspired by health, moral or political motives. The numerous bans on smoking never succeeded in curbing the spread of tobacco. The smokers always ended up with the upper hand, both because the legislators themselves became avid followers of the vice, and because it brought the Treasury enormous profits through the granting of monopolies, the taxation of imported tobacco, and the cultivation of and trade in the plant of foreign origin.
We will not go into the history of government bans and prohibitions and the penalties imposed on offenders here; we will only mention them because these negative experiences should be taken into account today when we say we want to combat smoking rationally.
Voluntary use of tobacco
With regard to the different ways of using tobacco for voluptuary purposes, we can say that the spread of a fashion depends on the fact that the human soul is inclined to imitate customs to which it attributes a character of distinction. In this field, we have typical examples.
The custom of the pipe was introduced by an explorer to the court of England, a milieu whose customs are known to be imitated by men of the world. Thus, towards the end of Elizabeth's reign, the vice of the pipe had spread throughout Britain: it was now indispensable for every elegant young man to be able to fill his pipe gracefully and emit graceful billows of smoke. The fashion had given rise to teachers specialising in teaching the difficult art and to reserved premises, known as 'tabagies', equipped with all the necessary smoking paraphernalia.
At the beginning of the 18th century, however, the fashion for "taking" tobacco was extraordinarily widespread in many countries, simply because it was in use at the French court. Starting in France and Spain, the habit spread to courts and high society everywhere. At the Prussian court, where the custom of smoking tobacco was in force, the "grip" was introduced by Frederick the Great, a notorious admirer of French culture, who often gave precious snuff boxes as gifts, even for political considerations.
Towards the middle of the eighteenth century, the "grip" became so widespread that it seemed to have completely supplanted smoking, to which only the peasants and the common people remained faithful; but towards the end of the century it had to give way to the advent of the cigar, which, although it had long been well known to Europeans, had never been fashionable.
From then on, the cigar became increasingly popular on the continent, while the 'grip' and the pipe steadily lost ground.
During the nineteenth century, the fashion for the cigar slowly declined under the pressure of the cigarette and the "stub". However, while the use of chewing tobacco was gradually disappearing, the fashion for the cigarette spread more and more rapidly and widely to all countries and all social classes.
Cigarettes can rightly be called the 'vice of the century': their current popularity is probably due to the fact that they respond particularly well to the nervous temperament of modern man and the hurried pace of daily life in our time.
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