Harper's Weekly 02/05/1898


SCIENCE VERSUS PREJUDICE.

Mr. W. H. Garrison says he is a cigarette
smoker; but in his “Brief for the Cigarette,”
read before the Medico-Legal Society in
New York, at its last meeting, there is no
trace of his mental powers being obscured
by the practice. The paper, which is pub-
lished in full in the current issue of the
Journal of that society, is a calm, concise,
and logical summing up of what science has
to say concerning the cigarette, and a fair
and fearless demand that there should be an
end of indiscriminate and ignorant abuse,
and a distinct refutation or acceptance of
the conclusions of science. The first notice-
able feature of his paper is its outspoken
candor. “The annual output of cigarettes
for 1897,” he says, “was 4,000,000,000; and
if the cigarette per se is the malign thing
that its opponents claim it to be, the manu-
facture and sale . . . should be suppressed
without delay.” This is confidence with a
vengeance! The cigarette must be scien-
tifically unassailable if its advocate can at
the outset of the discussion so fairly chal-
lenge the detractors of the cigarette.


Mr. Garrison contends that the opposi-
tion to the cigarette is due to prejudice;
that science, on the other hand, declares
it to be composed of nothing but tobacco
and paper, both free from any foreign in-
gredient, and the purest of their kind; the
tobacco used being far less charged with
nicotine than cigars or smoking and chew-
ing tobacco. The array of scientific men,
of the highest reputation, whom he marshals
in support of his arguments is amazing.


His first authority is Prof. H. W. Wiley,
late Chief Chemist of U. S. Department
of Agriculture, who says that a cigarette is
made of 1.0926 grams of tobacco enveloped
in a wrapper of paper which weighs 0.038
grams. Simply tobacco and paper.


As to the quality of these, he quotes
Prof. Willis G. Tucker, of the Albany Med-
ical College, Analyst of the New York
Board of Health, who says in his Ninth
Annual Report to the Secretary of the State
Board of Health: “The tobacco used in the
manufacture of cigarettes is much less fre-
quently flavored or otherwise artificially
treated than is chewing or smoking tobacco
and that employed in the manufacture of
cigars. . . . As regards the paper wrapper,
there is no reason why an impure or poison-
ous paper should be employed, and many
reasons why it should not.”


Again, Mr. J. C. Wharton, Chemist of
Nashville, Tenn., says: “The analyses and
observations of the materials composing
these American cigarettes lead me to the
conclusion and belief that they are made
from well-selected, clean tobacco leaf, and a
purified article of harmless paper.”


The popular prejudice has variously as-
cribed to cigarettes a proportion of opium,
morphine, jimpson-weed, belladonna, glyce-
rine, or sugar. The city of Chicago ordered
an analysis from time to time of specimens
of all brands sold in the open market. City
Chemist Cass L. Kennicott and Assistant
City Chemist D. B. Bisbee reported last
October that all the cigarettes were made of
“Bright Virginia.” This is a technical term,
and means a tobacco grown in Virginia and
North Carolina, and purified by being kept
in the warehouse for three years before it is
used. Of this these chemists say: “Frequent
analyses show that this tobacco contains
only from 1 to 1 ½ per cent. of nicotine. The
mildest Havana contains much more, while
the best grades of domestic cigars reach as
high as 8 ½ per cent.”


As additional authorities corroborating
these points, Mr. Garrison quotes Dr. G.
F. Payne, State Chemist of Georgia;
Profs. Robert and Alfred M. Peter, of
Lexington, Ky.; James Dewar, M.A.,
F.R.S., Jacksonian Professor, Cambridge
University; William Odling, M.A., F.R.S.,
Professor of Chemistry, Oxford Univer-
sity; C. Meymott Tidy, M.A., M.B.,
Professor of Chemistry and of Forensic
Medicine at the London Hospital, and
James F. Babcock, for five years Professor
of Chemistry in the Massachusetts College
of Pharmacy. The last says, in a report to
the Massachusetts State Committee on Public
Health. “The papers contained such ele-
ments as are always to be found in the
plants producing the fibre from which they
are made, and contained no others… . The
fillings were found to consist of tobacco, and
nothing else.”


Mr. Garrison remarks, “Is not this con-
clusive? Not a doubt, not even a qualified
statement by any of these disinterested ex-
perts!”



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