Collection: Medicinal Cigarettes
Tobacco was long thought to hold medicinal properties, though the opposite is now known to be true: In 2008, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that tobacco “is the single most preventable cause of death in the world today” and noted that tobacco “is a risk factor for six of the eight leading causes of death in the world” (1). However, as early as 1492 when Columbus and his crew first encountered Native Americans smoking tobacco, the Europeans recorded tobacco’s use as a healing agent. From then on, the supposed medicinal powers of both tobacco and nicotine were included in most European and American pharmacopoeia (official lists of approved medications) until the twentieth century, when nicotine was deleted from the American Pharmacopoeia just in time for the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. Tobacco soon became regulated, as it joined liquor and firearms as taxable by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Still, as late as the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries, numerous companies advertised medicinal cigarettes. Some of these medicinal cigarettes contained tobacco, while others did not. Those used to treat asthma, “asthma cigarettes,” were sold well into the latter half of the twentieth century.
1. WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2008. Geneva: World Health Organization. 6-7:2008