Retro LectureHop: The Dangers Of Smoking
Written by Henry Golub
While searching through the Bwog Archive, Staff Writer Henry Golub stumbled upon an intriguing LectureHop from the 1950s. The piece, republished below, does not represent the attitude, views, or practices of Mr. Golub.
From the Archive:
On January 30, 1952, Staff Writer Richard Richardson schlepped his 1950s rear end over to the lecture “Smoking and Health: An Unexpected Connection.” He heard visiting scientist Dr. Igaught Bronchitis speak about the alleged dangers of smoking cigarettes.
The only thing I enjoy more than there being nine planets is being surrounded by smokers. I guess I just like the smell.
Not everyone, however, enjoys cigarette fumes as much as I do. Dr. Igaught Bronchitis, a researcher from the American Lung Laboratory, falls into that unfortunate category. The scientist has dedicated himself to identifying and eliminating the small pleasures in life. He visited Columbia last Tuesday to peddle his drivel about smoking.
I didn’t want to cover Dr. Bronchitis’ lecture. In fact, I intended to spend the hour working through my daily pack of ciggies. I only attended because the writer who had signed up to go had a COPD episode at the last minute. Before I left him, the writer reminded me that Dr. Bronchitis’ research threatened our entire way of life. I recognized the gravity in his words, despite the hoarseness.
By the time I arrived at the lecture, Dr. Bronchitis had already begun his spiel about nicotine, a topic he would talk about almost nonstop for the next hour. He spoke with a nasal voice and had a habit of describing data as “robust.” He looked a bit nervous the whole time—like he could have used a cigarette.
It was difficult to listen to the scientist’s presentation without hurling tomatoes at him. First, he had the gall to show findings that nicotine is addictive. Then he spoke about smoking-related diseases (
fake news! I mean, yellow journalism!) and case studies. He also passed around photos of smokers’ lungs that offended my 1950s sensibilities (haha, 1950s jokes).
A murmur and a thick cloud of cigarette smoke rose from the crowd whenever Dr. Bronchitis drew a new graph. Each one depicted a positive link between smoking and an affliction, such as money spent. “Preposterous,” I heard one observer say. “Impossible,” said another, between pipe puffs. One graph comparing cigarette usage to the likelihood of developing emphysema insulted me in particular. Smoking isn’t dangerous; emphysema just runs in my family. But then again, so does smoking…
I suppose that Dr. Bronchitis made a couple of fair points, but I ultimately disliked the lecture. Especially Bronchitis himself, who had a smug attitude about him. Why was he so confident about the dangers of manmade cigarettes when there have been volcanic eruptions for billions of years? Orbit cycles, too. And sunspots.
People talk about smoking like it’s some terrible thing, but I can confidently say that there are far worse threats out there. I’m talking about communism, communist plots, the Red Army, the Red Sox, and communists. Those who say that smoking an All-American cigarette is dangerous are on Stalin’s Rolodex.
I want to make clear that I am not opposed to science. I recognize its many benefits. I do, however, believe that we should stop scientists before they make regrettable discoveries. In the same way that we won’t be able to unknow Smart Cars once we discover them, we’ll never be able to carelessly smoke cigarettes again once we fully understand them. Furthermore, health research is a slippery slope. Let them take away cigarettes and soon they’ll be going after leaded gasoline and asbestos.
I propose that we withhold funding from organizations that research the effects of cigarettes. The going will be tough, but fortunately, we have a thriving tobacco lobby.
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Line Graph via Wikimedia Commons
Old-Timey Crowd via Picryl
Правда via Wikimedia Commons