Was There a Time When Smoking Was Considered Healthy?

If you were alive in London in the mid-1600s, you wouldn't have known what was causing the Great Plague, which wiped out 100,000 residents, almost one-fourth of the city's population. You wouldn't have known that the bacterium Yersinia pestis was responsible, or that it was spread by infected fleas. Like many, you might have believed that something bad was in that murderous air -- something that you hoped could be defeated by tobacco smoke.

One of the many myths circulating at the time encouraged people to smoke in order to stay healthy. At Eton College, smoking became a requirement, and violators were punished severely if they were caught not smoking. Other methods to fight the supposedly foul air: burning "sulfurous brimstone" (the recommendation of the College of Physicians), wearing perfume, and surrounding yourself with fragrant flowers.

Other potential cures for the Great Plague:

  • There was no shortage of supposed cures, some of which were costly and unscrupulous, such as a miraculous powder that allegedly came from unicorn horns.

  • When money changed hands at a market, it was placed in a bowl of vinegar, so the shopkeeper wouldn't have to handle it directly.

  • Some doctors recommended wearing lucky charms and many more wanted nothing to do with their infected patients.

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More Info: The Pharmaceutical Journal

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Spanked for not smoking... Any excuse.

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