Nicotine is undoubtedly the most universally used of all poisons. In the blistering heat of the tropics; in the biting cold of the arctic; on the broad highway of the tumbling waves; and among the dead desert wastes, man companions himself with tobacco.
It affords temporary narcotic gratification to the genius; it is indispensable to the gangster. In its fumes the poet finds strange themes; behind its filmy cloud the prostitute hides herself.
From early childhood to senile age it is woven into the warp and woof of human endeavor.
Billions of dollars of tribute are paid annually to the Minotaur. Thousands of acres of splendid timberland, and millions of dollars of valuable property are destroyed yearly by the gross carelessness and stupidity of its addicts. To its worship its devotees annually contribute uncounted millions of valuable work or study hours.
In its production, manufacture and sale hundreds of thousands are busily engaged.
Tobacco adds immeasurably to the cost of human existence; it subtracts immeasurably from the length and breadth of human life.
Tobacco is insidious in its debauching and degenerating influence. It undermines the integrity of the moral faculty—especially in the young—while shredding the nervous systems of young and old alike.
Those engaged in exploiting the drugged weed are sincere and honest men, who would, no doubt, feel a great compunction of conscience if they realized that they were innocently responsible for prostituting the best instincts of the race.
And yet slave dealers for many centuries, and rum dealers, for an equal length of time, were quite as satisfied that their trade was thoroughly legitimate.
We now know, however, that it was not. And the voice of Civilization is emphasizing the fact in no uncertain terms. And this brings me to the crux of my tale.
I could not conscientiously accept pay for prostituting my fellow-man.
I believe that employers of labor will soon come generally to recognize the insidious effect of the poison upon their employees, and that ultimately they will discountenance its use—in the same way that they have discountenanced the use of alcohol.
I believe that those who now so brazenly extol the alleged glories and virtues of tobacco indulgence, for the profit they make in selling the stuff, will be thoroughly ashamed of their calling. Some of them may, perhaps, even repent of their ways, and reform—although this is not at all likely.
I may not live to see this brought about. But if ever it is brought to pass, one very terrible degenerative influence will have been banished from the land. Men and women will be cleaner and sweeter. The stunted adolescent will attain his growth. Money that could do so much for the development of civilization will be diverted into constructive channels. With this end in view this book was prepared with the aid of the best obtainable scientific authorities.