Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Dangers of cigarette smoking - Trove Tuesday

In the 21st century we are very aware of the dangers of smoking cigarettes, however it is interesting to find in the digitised newspapers on Trove the many accounts of how dangerous the practise was. 

In the 1895 it was recorded in the Windsor & Richmond Gazette that an "eleven-year-old named Gilespie has gone hopelessly insane, at Warren, through excessive cigarette-smoking."

A few weeks later the topic was raised again, in the Gazette, this time discussing the situation in Windsor. Obviously smoking amongst teenage boys, was prevalent in the Hawkesbury.  

"Juvenile smokers are to be found by the score in Windsor, and on any night an observant person may see specimens of the mature infant idling at street corners, or swaggering along the street with cigarettes between their is asserted upon the very best scientific authority that cigarette-smoking is the worst and most distinctly injurious form of tobacco indulgence. This applies to adults as well as to children; but, of course men, stronger of nerve and more hardy of tissue, are better able to withstand the assaults of nicotine. Upon the young however, the habit of smoking in any form has the most pernicious influence. It is a danger, physically and morally. It stunts his growth, undermines his nervous system and incuicates in him selfish and slavish habits; it injures the sight, and when indulged to excess, it impairs and even destroys the intellect. Smoking injures the sight without question...In the streets of our town mere boys have frequently accosted passers by for matches wherewith to light their 'bumpers'. A firm snubbing would meet exigencies of this kind, and perhaps act as a slight deterrent. Consistent discouragement on the part of parents would mitigate the evil. Not only mothers and fathers, but all sensible people who have the interests of the juvenile population at heart, should do their utmost to put down this detestable and injurious habit of cigarette smoking among young boys."

THE SEDUCTIVE CIGARETTE pictured from the West Gippsland Gazette 21 Jan 1902, p. 8

Many of the articles refer to the appalling effect upon the nervous system and how smoking will stunt growth. 

An impressive warning from over a century ago ~ why didn't the community pay any attention?


  1. Perhaps the seductive cigarette advertising of the day drew these smokers in.

  2. I had a good laugh at the image of these "mature infants", but this is a very sobering article. Interesting that during later periods, eg in the 1930's and 40's cigarette smoking was so accepted/normal, as is shown in movies of the time.

  3. You had me hooked with "An eleven year old............has gone hopelessly insane"

    Amazing. I had no idea that there were warnings about the dangers of smoking so long ago.