We ended Part One of our story on the history of smoking combustibles in the UK somewhere in the mid-1800s. Philip Morris (an actual guy, not the huge tobacco conglomerate that we know today) had opened his first tobacco shop on Bond Street in London in 1847. British soldiers from the Crimean War had fallen in love with Turkish cigarettes while fighting abroad. The medical community was starting to see more clearly how smoking negatively affected people’s health.
In the mid-1850s, two pivotal events for both sides of the tobacco debate occurred in England. Renowned British medical journal, The Lancet, published scholarly articles that expressed fears about the health effects of smoking. Since it was one of the first nationally circulated and highly regarded medical publications to call tobacco smoking into question, this would be a key event in the tobacco debate that would continue to rage on for the next century.
Meanwhile, the world’s first cigarette factory was opened by at Crimean War veteran, Robert Gloag, opened England’s first ever cigarette factory. If there are any Gloags remaining today, we can’t say we’re jealous of their legacy. The brand of cigs he made were called Sweet Threes, and the factory could make as many as 10,000 cigarettes in a single day. Like any product, the introduction of mass production techniques would make it more easily and cheaply available to the public.
A few years after Gloag opened his cigarette factory, Philip Morris started making his own cigs. Obviously, his venture was a success, and in the early 1900s his product made its way to America. One of the brands of cigs he developed was called Marlboro. While today we associate Marlboro cigs with very American concepts like cowboys, it turns out they are a British invention. We have to say we had no idea this was true and are a little disappointed to learn it.
Despite the wide success of cigarettes, the medical community did not back down in its search to prove that smoking was bad for your health. In 1912, Dr Isaac Adler was noticing increased rates of “lung malignancies” which before had always been “among the rarest forms of cancer.” In 1923, a meeting of doctors in Germany, a country which at the time encouraged autopsies in all deaths and maintained extensive records on cancer rates among its citizens, confirmed that rates of lung cancer were growing. In 1939, Dr. Franz Herman Müller released the world’s first case study on links between tobacco smoking and cancer, concluding that smoking was causing the increased instances of it.
Despite increasing evidence on the ill effects of smoking, cigarettes were included in the rations for American and British soldiers during World War II (it probably didn’t help that Germans were leading the way in anti-tobacco research).
Throughout the 50s and 60s, research would continue to show that smoking cigs caused cancer, but by then, thanks to folks like Philip Morris, Robert Gloag and other big players in the industry, it was too late. Over the next decades, and still today, smoking was banned in place after place – trains, planes, restaurants, arenas, pubs, you name it. Still, millions of people today are addicted to this truly nasty product.