Physician Intervention for Smoking Cessation: Commentary pp. 433-436
Authors: (Norman Hymowitz, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey)
Abstract: Cigarette smoking and other forms of tobacco use exact a heavy toll on the health of people throughout the world. In 2003, the number of smokers in the world was estimated at 1.3 billion people. This figure is expected to increase to 1.7 billion by 2025 (American Cancer Society [ACS], 2006). Based on current patterns, smoking-attributable diseases will kill about 650 million of the world‘s 1.3 billion smokers alive today. In view of the current pandemic of tobacco-related disease, it is difficult to appreciate the fact that in the past, tobacco was valued for its curative and medicinal value, and beliefs about the pleasures and benefits of smoking continued well into the 20th Century. As early as the 15th Century, early explorers encountered New World Natives who used tobacco to rid their bodies of lice and as a treatment for frostbite, burns, rashes, venereal ulceration, and malignant tumors (Koskowski, 1955). Returning explorers brought tails of tobacco‘s virtues, samples, and seeds that ultimately led to the spread of tobacco to all four corners of the globe. In 1597, John Gerard published Herbal, an authoritative textbook of therapeutics in which he described the medicinal qualities of tobacco for the treatment of headache, rheumatism, and ―pain of the lungs‖ (Koskowski, 1955). During the plague of London in 1665, tobacco chewing was considered the most effective form of protection against infection (Apperson, 1914). When, in the summer of 1793, ten percent of the population of Philadelphia died of yellow fever, men, women, and children smoked strong cigars for protection against the ―American Plague‖ (Koskowski, 1955).