Eviles of Smoke

[Ed. Note: Sir Walter Raleigh introduced tobacco to England in the late 1500s. Even in the 16th Century, people protested against it. These anti-tobacco comments date from those early days of smoking.]

A custome lothsome to the eye, hateful to the Nose, harmefull to the braine, dangerous to the Lungs, and the blacke stinking fume thereof, neerest resembling the horrible Stigian smoke of the pit that is bottomlesse.


Is it not both great vanitie and uncleanness, that at the table, a place of respect, of cleanlinesse, of modestie, men should not be ashamed, to sit tossing of Tobacco pipes, and puffing of the smoke of Tobacco one to another, making the filthie smoke and stinke thereof, to exhale athwart the dishes and infect the air, when, very often, men that abhorre it are at their repast? Surely Smoke becomes a kitchen far better than a Dining chamber, and yet it makes a kitchen also oftentimes in the inward parts of men, soiling and infecting them, with an unctuous and oily kind of Soote, as hath bene found in some great Tobacco takers, that after death were opened.


Moreover, which is a great iniquitie, and against all humanity, the husband shall not bee ashamed, to reduce thereby his delicate, wholesome, and cleane complexioned wife, to that extremitie, that either shee must be also corrupt her sweete breath therewith, or else resolute to live in a perpetual stinking torment.

-- James VI of Scotland
A Counter-Blaste to Tobacco


By gods deynes: I marle what pleasure or felicitie they have in taking this rogish tobacco: it's good for nothing but to choake a man, and fill him full of smoake, and imbers.

-- Ben Jonson
Every Man in His Humour


A good vomit, I confesse, a virtuous herb, if it be well qualified, opportunely taken, and medicinally used, but as it is commonly abused by most men, which take it as Tinkers do ale, 'tis a plague, a mischief, a violent purger of goods, lands, health, hellish, devilish, and damned Tobacco, the ruine and overthrow of body and soul.

-- Robert Burton
The Anatomy of Melancholy


Tobacco drieth the brain, dimmeth the sight, vitiateth the smell, hurteth the stomach, destroyeth the concoction, disturbeth the humors and spirits, corrupteth the breath, induceth a trembling of the limbs, exsiccateth the windpipe, lungs, and liver, annoyeth the milt, scorcheth the heart, and causeth the blood to be adusted.

-- Tobias Venner
Via recta ad vitam longam


If thou desirest to Smoake this weed, a Barber-Surgeon ye shall shurely need and soone thou wilt be sorely dead.

-- Magnus Maxwell
The Barber-Surgeon Songe Boke

© Copyright 1994 by Michael L. Foster
Updated 11 December 1996 by Michael L. Foster <mfoster@st-mike.org>