Harper's Weekly 05/26/1906


What Happens When You
Smoke


Men are so habituated to the outcry
against smoking that there are few who do
not ignore it.


Smokers who have some regard for the
anxieties of their friends say that they
smoke tobacco from which nicotine has been
eliminated. Tobacco so prepared can be
found near at hand, but few smoke it, be-
cause the process which eliminates nicotine,
if it does not destroy, materially modifies
the savor of the smoke. The outcry is al-
ways the sameóNicotine! But many other
of the principles of tobacco are as pernicious
as nicotine, and when it comes to that it
would be equally pernicious to smoke rye
straw or any other simple, because (for one
of several reasons) there is a continuous
production of oxide of carbon wherever
there is imperfect combustion. The smoker
carries in his mouth a little furnace, whose
fires are fed with oxide of carbon; the fire
smoulders under ashes, and the smoker fans
it by means of the steam of his pipe or the
vent of his cigar or cigarette. Year after year,
and all the year, the furnace is in place,
burning oxide of carbon, and the smoker is
working the bellows with a part of the force
of his respiratory organs. The composition
of tobacco smoke is complex. Analysis gives:
Nicotine, pyridic* bases, formic aldehyde,
ammonia, methylamin, pyrrol, sulphuretted
hydrogen, prussic acid, butyric acid (buty-
ric acid), carbonic acid, oxide of carbon,
the steam of water, an etherized empyreu-
matic oil, and tarry or resinous products,
among which we detect small quantities of
phenol. Of all the products of tobacco, the
most venomous are nicotine, pyridic and
methylamin bases, prussic acid, sulphuretted
hydrogen, oxide of carbon, and empyreu-
matic oil; and all that we draw into our
lungs with more or less satisfaction.


The Functions of Nicotine

We forget that while we breathe the in-
toxicating aroma we are not breathing the
air as we ought to breathe it; and we for-


(Continued on page 753.)

* The bases of pyridin, an alkaloid obtained from
the oils derived from bones and other orgaic
matter.



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