It may not surprise you to know that we as humans have been smoking for a long time. Though the shape, addictiveness and even taste have changed over time, the simple fact that people enjoy the nicotine hit of tobacco products hasn’t changed in over 8000 thousand years.
However it wasn’t until the colonization of the Americas in the 16th century that tobacco really took off. With new ways to farm and a large workforce the scale of tobacco farming grew into one of the biggest crops on the continent. The use of tobacco in pipes quickly spread from Europe to the middle east and India, with smoking becoming a cultural touchstone along with the other new import, coffee. The forms of tobacco varied slightly between the different countries, but the appetite for it was the same.
Like many other new discoveries, tobacco was first considered a medicine, it was even meant to help people with lung issues of all things!
For modern people it seems extremely obvious that smoking is dangerous, it is in fact the number one preventable killer in the world, but how long have we known the dangers of cigarettes?
EARLY SMOKING CONCERNS
“A cigarette is the perfect type of a perfect pleasure. It is exquisite and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can one want?” - Oscar Wilde
Ever since the introduction of tobacco to the western world in the 17th century there have been those who wanted to get rid of it. Back when it was first introduced the dislike wasn’t really the health problems that smoking caused that invited the backlash, it was everything else about smoking.
The first major anti smoking advocate was actually King James I of England in his essay called the Counterblaste to Tobacco. Published in 1604 the king described tobacco as:
“A custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black, stinking fume thereof, nearest resembling the horrible Stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless.”
Even back when tobacco was introduced people thought that it might be dangerous, but mainly people were worried about the hygiene and the effect this drug had on children.
The anti-tobacco movement really took off though from 1880–1920 as more and more what we would call teenagers took to smoking. Partly this uptake by the young was as a direct rebellion against those who said they couldn’t do it, but also with the introduction of the relatively inexpensive and easy-to-smoke flue-cured Virginia tobacco.
Again this anti-smoking movement wasn’t due to the many health issues and fatal diseases that smoking can cause, but like the anti-alcohol movement it was because tobacco was seen as a drug and rightfully considered wrong for children to have.
DANGERS OF SMOKING AND SCIENTIFIC RATIONALE
But just because the early anti-smoking movements didn’t focus on the many dangers of cigarettes, that isn’t to say that scientists and doctors of the age were not becoming aware of it.
In fact the first evidence that smoking was damaging the smoker was in 1602 when an anonymous English author wrote the Work of Chimney Sweepers.
The anonymous author looked at the illnesses often seen in chimney sweepers (which were caused by soot) and noticed that tobacco may be having similar effects.
Another report in 1795 by a German called Sammuel Thomas von Soemmering reported that he was becoming more aware of cancers of the lip in people who smoke tobacco in pipes.
In the 19th century smoking changed dramatically with the introduction of cheap paper cigarettes. No longer did you have to use a pipe or pay large costs for a cigarette, soon the cigarette as we know it today became the main way to take in tobacco.
However it wasn’t until the early 20th century and the explosion of new smokers and the advancement of medicine did people begin to connect the dots.
An American doctor called Dr. Isaac Adler was the first to strongly suggest that lung cancer is related to smoking in 1912. As widely spread as it is now, before World War I, lung cancer was a rare disease that most doctors never saw in their career, but that was slowly changing.
After the first world war though the amount of smokers skyrocketed. This was due to a number of reasons, but the main one was a push by governments, media and tobacco companies to give the soldiers in the trenches cheap cigarettes. They did this as cigarettes were meant to help with stress and the psychological effect of the war. This wasn’t true (cigarettes don’t help with stress) but what this did do was create a whole generation of smokers.
With the world wars effect causing a huge rise in cigarette smoking, there was a huge rise in lung cancer. It wasn’t widely known at the time of course, but currently the CDC says that 80% to 90% of lung cancer deaths are linked to smoking cigarettes.
However the first inklings of the danger of cigarettes were starting to appear, as in 1929 a German scientist called Fritz Lickint of Dresden found a real statistical link between lung cancer–tobacco link. Unlike in 1912 this was a large scale study that rather than suggesting the link, actually showed scientific proof that smoking causes lung cancer.
Despite this it took until 1950 until people began to listen. A US doctor by the name of Richard Doll published research in the British Medical Journal showing a close link between smoking and lung cancer.
A few years later in 1954 the British Doctors Study came out which, especially in the UK, truly brought the issue to the front and centre. The study of some 40,000 doctors over twenty years, confirmed the idea that cigarettes were linked to cancer. On the advice of this study and others like the American one above, the UK Government issued advice that smoking and lung cancer rates were related.
At this point though the habit was deeply ingrained in the culture, and smokers were reluctant to give up smoking. Even after the Royal College of Physicians and the U.S. surgeon general clearly stated in the 1960’s the dangerous health effects of smoking, smokers were slow to let go of their cigarettes.
As the years have gone on more and more information about the health risks smoking has come out to the point it is obvious how bad cigarettes are for you.
To list just a few, as a smoker you are:
THE TOBACCO INDUSTRY, ADVERTISING, PROMOTION AND CRITICISMS
In one way or another then we have known that smoking is bad for us for a long time. The obvious question to ask next then is why did we let the tobacco companies get away with selling cigarettes without any restrictions for so long?
A lot of this came down to money (unsurprisingly). The first cases of this can be seen in the US, where even though lung cancer was being linked to smoking many newspaper editors refused to report the findings. They didn’t want to cause offence to the tobacco companies, many of whom advertised heavily in newspapers.
Because of the media’s unwillingness to spread the news, and the general culture of active ignorance by the public, many doctors in the United States were happy to sell cigarettes as health-improving products.
The tobacco industry also invested heavily in marketing, which led to the first half of the 20th century being the age of the cigarette. In 1950 around half of the population of industrialized countries smoked, though that figure hides the fact that in countries such as the UK up to 80% of adult men were regular smokers.
This did start to change though as the science began to become more widely known and harder to ignore. In the UK the first laws to restrict tobacco marketing came into place in 1964. This stopped all tobacco marketing on TV, though printed media and all other forms of marketing were still allowed.
The tobacco industry though didn’t let this stop their marketing plans and in the 1990’s were spending 4 to 6 billion dollars a year, and what is worse the main focus on their marketing was towards teenagers. One study in 1998 showed that:
“Tobacco companies conduct marketing campaigns that effectively capture teenage attention and stimulate desire for their promotional items.”
That kind of blatant marketing to teenagers may seem odd to us now, but it wasn’t until 2002 that tobacco companies were restricted any more. It took until 2015 until marketing for cigarettes was stopped in all forms, and 2016 that warnings on cigarettes were introduced.
This is all great that the cigarette companies can’t do that kind of thing anymore, but that just meant that the tobacco industry had to be cleverer. It might surprise you to know that cigarette companies are one one biggest sponsors of anti smoking ads, and the reason for that is to sell more cigarettes. A study came out that investigated the stop smoking ads by the tobacco industry, and found that they were just designed to help the cigarette companies, saying:
“The tobacco industry sponsored anti‐smoking ads do more to promote corporate image than to prevent youth smoking. By cultivating public opinion that is more sympathetic toward tobacco companies, the effect of such advertising is likely to be more harmful than helpful to youth.”
The study went on to explain how the marketing is set up, saying:
“The tobacco companies' smoking prevention ads never say that their product will kill you. Indeed, references to negative consequences of smoking are noticeably absent from their messages. A fleeting appearance of a United States Surgeon General's warning is the sole mention of any health risks caused by smoking. The teenagers who populate the ads seem convinced that not smoking is “cool”, but do little to persuade others of this viewpoint. These “role models” mention few advantages of not smoking and no specific reasons to reject it”
WANING APPEAL OF SMOKING TOBACCO
Thankfully we have come a long way for that, and the dangers of smoking are more widely known and information on what cigarettes are doing to you are not only on every box of cigarettes, but everywhere online and in any article about cigarettes.
The biggest measurable law against cigarettes though has been the smoking ban. Made into law in 2007 it stopped all smoking inside any public or work place.
Before the ban there was a large body of research linking passive smoking to health problems. Studies showed breathing in second-hand smoke increased an adult non-smoker’s risk of lung cancer and heart disease by a quarter, and the risk of stroke by 30 per cent.
Research in the British Medical Journal estimated there were 1,200 fewer hospital admissions for heart attacks in the year following the ban – improved air quality and fewer smokers will have contributed to this.
Taxation on cigarettes has also helped, with it being no secret that governments are trying to price out smokers with higher and higher taxes. Over the last 30 years the price of cigarettes has gone up 3% above inflation every year. Slowly this has made cigarettes into one of the most expensive habit you can have.
THE EMERGENCE OF VAPING AND E-CIGARETTES
With the price of cigarettes rising each year, and a growing awareness of how bad cigarettes are for you, the stage was set for an alternative to cigarettes that were cheaper but still gave the smoker the taste and feeling of a cigarette. That is where the E-Cigarette came in.
With the UK government’s health agency (Public Health England) saying that E-Cigarettes are at least 95% less harmful than cigarettes and an average user saving 80% when they make the switch to E-Cigarettes millions of people have been able to get away from smoking for good.
EARLY ATTEMPTS AT VAPES
"To cease smoking is the easiest thing I ever did. I ought to know because I’ve done it a thousand times." - Mark Twain
The idea has been around for a long time, after all people have been wanting to quit smoking for almost as long a smoking has existed!
The idea of an E-Cigarette, something that gives nicotine and the feel of a cigarette, has been around since the 1920’s. However the technology and public willingness to try it just wasn’t there.
The idea kept cropping up though and in the 1960’s the idea was again attempted, but again the smokers at the time just didn’t want to know.
THE MODERN VAPE
It took until 2003 for the modern e-cigarette to be invented, by a Chinese man called Hon Lik. Due to the death of his father from smoking, and being a 3 pack a day smoker himself, Hon Lik was determined to find an alternative.
The basic idea makes sense, make something that tastes, feels and even looks like a cigarettes, but without the 4000+ chemicals and 50+ carcinogens that cause all the health risks. To do this Hon Lik created a vapouriser that looks like a cigarette and turns liquid into a vapour and is funnelled into a device that you can breathe the vapour in.
The designs have changed over the years, with some looking like cigarettes (called cigalikes, like our E-Cigarette starter kit) and others that produce cloud like vapour.
In any design though the e-liquid is the most important part then, as that is what you will be breathing into your body. It needed to have nicotine in (as that is why smokers smoke after all) and flavouring to make it taste like a cigarette.
Here at SMOKO we take our liquid seriously, and make all of our e-liquid in the UK so we can guarantee the taste and the general quality of all our products.
THE RISING POPULARITY OF E-CIGARETTES AND VAPING
Since 2003 the popularity of E-Cigarettes has exploded, with 3.6 million people in the UK along using E-Cigarettes.
E-Cigarettes have continued to be endorsed by Public Health England, and both the NHS and the charities like Cancer Research UK all agree that making the switch from cigarettes to E-Cigarette is a great choice for smokers.
SMOKING TOBACCO IS HISTORY CONCLUSION
For a long time then tobacco companies have been able to get away with selling a product that actively kills hundreds of thousands of people a year. However as time has moved on, and the introduction of the smoking ban and alternatives like E-Cigarettes, hopefully the day of the cigarette is nearing its end.
If you are a smoker though and have yet to move away from cigarettes, why not try an e-cigarette or vape starter kit? Our UK made flavours and discreet cigarette like design has helped thousands of people make the switch to a much cheaper, 95% Less harmful alternative!