A Physician’s Guide to Tobacco

Photo of a snake plant sitting on the book, "The American Family Physician"

When compared with alcohol, tobacco may be called a harmless agent; but if used foolishly or in excessive amounts, it may have bad effects upon the general health. Yet, even in the severest cases, tobacco is injurious only to the consumer. It rarely means the destruction of entire families.

Well that’s a relief!

Smoked in moderation tobacco has a slightly stimulating effect. In addition to nicotin, which acts as a strong poison on muscular tissue (including that of the heart), tobacco contains other elements which probably are the chief cause of certain gastric disorders affecting excessing smokers. A portion of the smoke adheres to the saliva and mucus in the mouth, together with which it enters the stomach, where it causes irritation. The habit of swallowing smoke is therefore doubly foolish. In the same way, exhaling smoke through the nose may cause catarrh of the throat. The use of snuff not only affects the throat, but also the stomach, as a great part of the snuff is swallowed. Chewing tobacco is also objectionable, for, like smoke, if seriously affects the mucous membrane of the mouth. It is least injurious to smoke a mild cigar after a full meal.

I’ll obviously have to remember this next time I have a full meal.

Excessive smoking causes a rapid and irritable heart-action, catarrh of the nose and throat, and much tremor and nervousness; it may even cause serious heart-muscle deterioration. The chief disadvantage in cigarette smoking is due to the habit of inhaling the smoke.

  • From The Standard Family Physician: A Practical International Encyclopedia of Medicine and Hygiene Especially Prepared for the Household. Copyright 1907 by Funk & Wagnalls.

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