Friday, October 19, 2012

Cigarettes Effects on the Brain

by Donna L. Watkins

In the late 1800s, Washington Duke started a small firm which eventually became The American Tobacco Company, one of the world's largest tobacco manufacturers. It was called the "golden weed" and transformed North Carolina into the heart of a world-wide tobacco empire.

During our visit to Durham, North Carolina, we visited Duke Homestead and Tobacco Museum. Having a grandfather that smoked for 54 years and died of lung cancer, I barely scanned the museum displays, but I did watch the film presented in the auditorium. Within it was all the wonder of the giant world of tobacco and what it did for the city of Durham. However, they balanced it well with the reality of the dangers.

The last cigarette rolled out of Durham in 2000. Many of the old factory and warehouse structures have been converted into housing, retail, restaurant and office spaces. The city has changed its motto from "City of Tobacco" to "City of Medicine," based on the high concentration of medical practitioners and researchers at Duke and in Research Triangle Park, the Durham County special tax district formed in 1959 to attract high-tech jobs to the area.

I noted the author of a couple of quotes within the film and was refreshed to find that not everybody was ignorant of the effects of tobacco many years before medical science caught up with the reality of it.

Thomas Edison's famous 1914 anti-cigarette memo to Henry Ford about cigarettes' adverse residual brain effects was actually a cable sent on April 26th:

Friend Ford,

The injurious agent in cigarettes comes principally from the burning paper wrapper. The substance thereby formed, is called "Acrolein." It has a violent action on the nerve centers, producing degeneration of the cells of the brain, which is quite rapid among boys. Unlike most narcotics this degeneration is permanent and uncontrollable. I employ no person who smokes cigarettes.

Thomas A Edison

A Counterblaste to Tobacco is a treatise written by King James VI of Scotland and King James I of England in 1604, in which he expresses his distaste for tobacco, particularly tobacco smoking. As such, it is one of the earliest anti-tobacco publications.

Have you not reason then to bee ashamed, and to forbeare this filthie noveltie, so basely grounded, so foolishly received and so grossely mistaken in the right use thereof? In your abuse thereof sinning against God, harming your selves both in persons and goods, and raking also thereby the markes and notes of vanitie upon you: by the custome thereof making your selves to be wondered at by all forraine civil Nations, and by all strangers that come among you, to be scorned and contemned. A custome 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. — James 1604 from A Counterblaste of Tobacco

Tobacco not only cuts lives short, but there is a great Cost To The Economy also.

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