History of Campbell County, Tennessee
 

Time Line

TOBACCO USE IN DAYS GONE BY

By Dallas Bogan

Reprinted with Permission from Dallas Bogan.
 
This piece of writing is merely intended to investigate the early uses of tobacco in many forms. It is certainly not intended to promote this form of lifestyle. It has been proven that tobacco use is greatly harmful to one’s health and should definitely be avoided.

     Many years ago cigarette smokers were looked upon as sissies and as contenders for an early demise. Those who were cigar smokers and other stronger forms of the weed scorned the “softies” who used cigarettes, which were widely known as “coffin nails.” The ladies, of course, never touched the things in those days.

     The he-men of the earlier era indulged in cigars, chewin ‘chawin’ tobacco, and dipped snuff. Likewise, it seemed that the smaller the man--or boy--the larger the cigar, this attitude being the rule, so it seemed. Cigar smokers once were so plentiful that children and girls saved the cigar bands --the colorful rings that run about the middle of a cigar showing the name brand. They also pasted them on the bottom of glass dishes where they would show through from beneath. Girls competed amongst each other to see who had the largest number of different kinds of cigar bands.

     Obviously, the cheaper method of enjoying tobacco was to chew it. This practice was utilized where smoking was dangerous of forbidden in mines, barns, factories, and homes where the housewife would not tolerate the profound smoke of the cigars in her draperies. Clearly, the cigar butts and ashes along with the “spit” had to be disposed of. Along came the installation of spittons and cuspidors in all inside public places and in many homes. These “receptacles” took various forms and shapes. They were eventually banished from the home by the fuming and determined womenfolk. Chewing still persists where smoking is problematic or forbidden.

     Snuff was used mainly where smoking was dejected. Sophisticates of both sexes took up this habitual form of tobacco use in the upper echelons of society. A snuffbox was standard equipment in many places, where silver snuffboxes were especially treasured belongings. This powdery tobacco product was consumed either by inhaling it through a nostril or by rubbing it on the gums with a finger.

     The etiquette books of the latter part of the nineteenth century devoted considerable space to cigar smoking in view of the then prominent part it played in social life. Gentlemen were told, in general, that he should never keep a cigar in his mouth when talking or saluting a lady on the street and should never spit in the presence of a lady.

     Advise was given to the men that they should never smoke in the presence of a lady without first asking permission. In no way should they ever be in their presence with cigar smoke on their breath. A gentleman should never smoke in a room that ladies frequent, since few ladies like the odor of tobacco on their clothes. Chewing of parsley was recommended to remove the odor and taste of a cigar.

     Many people, especially women of delicate awareness, as practiced by cigar smokers and tobacco chewers, considered the practice of spitting, offensive.

     Further back, in colonial days, the use of tobacco was placed under strict guidelines in some places, although the tobacco product was acceptable in fines, taxes, and lodging, and often as a dowry. In many places, no one could use tobacco publicly, no two men could smoke together, and no one could smoke within two miles of the meetinghouse of the Sabbath. Landlords were forbidden to permit tobacco to be taken into their houses on penalty of a fine for both landlord and tobacco user.

     The Puritans stated that “No person under twenty-one shall take any tobacco until some skilled in physics testifies that it is useful to him and he has received a license from the court.

Time Line



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