Smoking is a major cause of death worldwide. It is therefore hard to believe that it has been used as medicine in the past centuries.
Only in the last 70 years have the dangers to our health been recognized, after hundreds of years of tobacco being used to cure everything from asthma to the plague.
The Wellcome Trust has released a collection of images showing the timeline of tobacco use since the 16th century and how the views around it have changed.
In the Georgian era – from 1714 to 1837 – one of the most unusual uses of tobacco in a smoke enema was to resuscitate victims of drowning (photo). Doctors at the time believed that tobacco smoke fought cold and drowsiness, making it a logical choice when treating drowned people in need of warmth and stimulation. Kits consisting of a mouthpiece, fumigator and a pair of bellows were placed along the River Thames in London by the Royal Humane Society. Once it was discovered that the main ingredient in tobacco, nicotine, is toxic, practice began to lose its favor in the early 19th century
In the 16th century, tobacco simply came to Europe as a plant under the nightshade family, which also includes tomatoes, aubergines, and peppers. The leaf has been used for centuries in North and South America, where it has already been used for medical and religious reasons. Doctors also became interested in the potential for European medicine. Centered, the plant, top left, drying of the leaves, and various photos of men who smoke in Europe
Tobacco came to Europe as a factory with the promise of medical progress, after centuries of use in North and South America.
It was popularized as a way to ward off diseases through the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, including being used to give a smoke enema to the victims of drowning along the River Thames.
Smart marketing enchanted smoking through the 20th century, when even doctors lit up in their practice rooms.
An anti-tobacco movement gained more control in the 1960s after the link between smoking and lung cancer, heart disease and gastrointestinal problems became stronger.
The number of smokers has fallen gradually since the 1970s and now about 19 percent of the British population still smoke.
It is the leading cause of death and illness in Britain and claims more than 120,000 lives each year from related illnesses, accounting for more than one fifth of deaths. This is comparable to the US, where it is responsible for around 480,000 deaths annually.
E-cigarettes are emerging as the modern replacement – but health experts are divided on their safety.
The first to raise red flags over tobacco use in Britain was King James VI of Scotland (not shown). In 1604 he wrote a publication called A Counterblaste to Tobacco, in which he expressed how much he did not like tobacco and especially smoked it. One of the earliest anti-tobacco publications, argued that smoking was dangerous to the health of the lungs and offensive to the people around you – “harming yourself … and being scorned and condemned by all strangers who come under you , it said . A rate was imposed on tobacco imports, although this was later removed after it had a negative impact on the economy of the still young American colonies
In 1618, the first standard medicine book in England was published by Royal College of Physicians (RCP) of London – and recommended tobacco as a remedy. “Pharmacopoeia Londinensis” (photo) mentioned all known medicines and how to use them, and everything outside could not be sold. It recommended the use of hot and dry tobacco leaf to combat the symptoms of colds and lethargy. The book was described as “a mighty weapon dressed as a book” by Dr. Louella Vaughan, an acute physician and clinical academician who has collaborated with the Royal College of Physicians
The plague struck London in 1665 and killed an estimated 100,000 people – nearly a quarter of the London population – in 18 months. At this time it was believed that disease spread through bad odors. Until science developed, the miasma theory was that diseases such as cholera and the Black Death were “in the air.” For this reason people used tobacco to protect themselves against diseases. People who had the task of disposing of dead bodies always had a clay pipe hanging on their mouths (photo)
This photo shows a typical ‘medical student’ who smokes with a crucible. The belief that smoking could prevent illnesses had long been present and persisted for centuries. It became an accessory for doctors, including surgeons and doctors. Anotmists – biological scientists studying the structure of the body – were advised to talk to cover the odor of the corpse or to protect against any illness that a body can have. It is not clear when this illustration was made, although the date 1854 was written
Incredibly, smoking was once used as a way to prevent asthma attacks, while doctors continued to use tobacco to treat diseases. It was found that inhaling smoke was an effective method of introducing medication into the lungs. Brands such as Potter’s asthma cigarettes used the plant stramonium instead of tobacco, which may help relieve asthma symptoms, but the benefits would be offset by the irritation of smoke on the patient’s air waves
According to Camel, doctors smoke their brand the most after 113,597 people have been interviewed in medicine. Health issues about smoking began to take shape in the 1920s and 1930s, and to reassure their consumers, companies such as Camel used the image of the doctor to sell their products. It was known that advertisements were recommended by doctors and smoked themselves, and it would have been unusual for doctors to actively encourage patients to give up smoking habits. The ad also encourages smokers to use camels because it ‘fits your T-zone’ – the throat and taste buds
In the 20th century and in 1962, the Royal College of Physicians published ‘Smoking and Health’, which used the research of Richard Doll and Austin Bradford Hill to show that smoking causes serious illness. It called on the government to implement a series of public health measures to reduce cigarette smoking, and told doctors to advise patients to stop. The report sold 33,000 copies in the first year and was widely translated, but it caused a media storm. The Daily Telegraph stated that the RCP “took the place of the church as the main threat to human freedom”
Initially, the response to “Smoking and Health” (pictured above) was to search for new, “healthier” cigarettes. But within a few years, the emphasis had shifted to encouraging people to give up the habit. The NHS launched its first anti-smoking units and the Ministry of Health issued posters (pictured here) to discourage smoking by emphasizing how smoking can save you money
In the 1980s and 1990s, the health effects of passive smoking became clearer. This eventually led to a smoking ban for all closed workplaces in Great Britain in 2006–7. The emphasis was on education and prevention. For example, expectant mothers have learned how the effects of smoking can harm an unborn child using the “Smokey Sue” doll (photo)
Now the number of smokers in the UK is always low. The e-cigarette replaced the tobacco leaf with nicotine and water vapor, first developed in the early 2000s. The invention initially raised concerns that e-cigarettes and vapes could increase the number of people that make up nicotine addictions, although research by the RCP shows that vapen and e-cigarettes can be effective as an aid to quit smoking. In fact, the gadgets have stopped 22,000 people from smoking every year. Critics have said the long-term effects are unclear, and health authorities, such as NICE, claim that the evidence is so weak to recommend for counseling or nicotine patches
VAPORIZING DAMAGE LUNGS LIKE CIGARETTES, STUDY FIND
Popular heated tobacco equipment can cause the same damage to lung cells as traditional cigarettes, said researchers at the University of Technology Sydney.
Meanwhile, e-cigarettes – or vape, as is well known – are also toxic to the cells that protect the lungs, so may not be a safe alternative.
Both electronic devices are now thought to cause respiratory damage seen in people with lung diseases, emphysema, bronchitis and cancer.
Australian researchers did lab tests on the effects of the devices and cigarettes on epithelial cells and smooth muscle cells extracted from the human respiratory tract.
In healthy lungs, epithelial cells act as the first line of defense for foreign particles entering the airways, while smooth muscle cells retain their structure.
The study showed that the devices damage the lung cells that protect the airways, in the same way as cigarette smoke, creating scars and reshaping the airway seen in lung patients.
The research found that the electronic devices caused this damage, including changes in cell structure and function, as well as an inflammatory response for help.
That inflammatory response was just as strong for the heated tobacco machine as when the lung cells were exposed to smoke from Marlboro Red cigarettes.