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Quotes from the Timeline for tobacco — 1492-10-15: Columbus discovers natives smoking, and in 1585: ENGLAND: Sir Francis Drake introduces smoking to Sir Walter Raleigh. 1602: ENGLAND: Publication of Worke of Chimney Sweepers by anonymous author identified as ‘Philaretes’ stating that illness of chimney sweepers is caused by soot and that tobacco may have similar effects. 1604: ENGLAND: King James I writes A Counterblaste to Tobacco.

King James, the royal sponsor of the English translation of the Bible, wasn’t a fan of smoking tobacco. He wrote that smoking is …

A custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black, stinking fumes thereof, nearest resembling the horrible Stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless.

That was one of The Best Things Anybody Ever Said(#225) about tobacco, and it was said 411 years ago by the King himself in his complete Counterblaste to Tobacco. The worst thing ever said about tobacco was that it has given rise to more personal fortunes than any other trade item. The reason it’s the worst is because that knowledge was a powerful incentive to cultivate, transport, sell, and clean up the carnage after tobacco.

It was Sir Walter Raleigh who brought tobacco to England, and Sir Francis Drake who brought Raleigh back from Virginia where he was stranded. Those two guys are among the elite heroes of the British Empire, and with little doubt of the American Tobacco Company, even though in the 1960s their product was killing a half million of their American customers per year. It strikes me as a bit strange how we choose our heroes and our villains when Captain Bligh, the victim of mutiny and infamy, didn’t kill anybody and was trying to bring a starting seed-stock of the staple food breadfruit across the Pacific to the Caribbean. His second attempt was successful, and his breadfruit is still a popular food in Puerto Rico.

Beware – the media consistently makes the good into bad and the bad into good, and smoking is not dangerous.