The battle against tobacco consumption may just have begun
Fag end not near
Governments all over the world usually mark World Anti-Tobacco day (May 31) by introducing measures to curb smoking. This year in India, the Union ministry of health and family welfare announced a ban on smoking scenes in films and television. However, despite many such measures, the war on tobacco may have only just begun.
Historically, tobacco consumption grew and spread to new countries after wars. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Egyptians, Turks, Russians, French, Spanish, Mexican, us and British soldiers learnt different forms of tobacco use from one another and carried it home. It's not surprising that the first cigarette factory was opened in 1856 in Walworth, uk by Robert Golag -- a Crimean war veteran.
Cigarette sales soared when cigarette rations were introduced for soldiers during World War- i. In 1914, just after the outbreak of the war, John J Pershing, commander-in-chief of the American forces in France in 1917, called tobacco "indispensable to the daily ration as it soothed the nerves of war-battered soldiers". Twenty-five years later when World War ii broke, us president Theodore Roosevelt declared tobacco a protected crop. It was projected as the wonder crop that would defend the us from the Nazis and the Japanese.
As cigarettes were sent to the troops, there were shortages in the uk and the us. At the same time, the trauma of war and poverty pushed many to smoke. The trend continued well after the war. More than half of the adult male population of the us and about a quarter of the country's female population smoked during the mid-1950s.
At the same time, German epidemiology convinced the scientific community, the Fuhrer and the people of Germany that tobacco caused cancer. German physicians Franz Muller in 1939, and Eberhard Schairer and Erich Schoniger in 1943 were the first to use case-control epidemiological methods to document the lung cancer hazard from cigarettes. Muller concluded that the "extraordinary rise in tobacco use was the single most important cause of the rising incidence of lung cancer".
But that was a stray victory. There has been a great rise in smoking in Asian nations. For example, South Korea's tobacco consumption rose from 68,000 tonnes in 1980-82 to 101,000 tonnes in 1999, whilst consumption in Thailand, over the same period, grew from 31,000 tonnes to 40,000 tonnes.
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