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The foul narcotic' was to blame for baldness, 1nsanity, tooth decay and other ills
It was a typical morning on the road for W D. (Big Bill) Haywood; typical in that he was in a saloon, but untypical in that he was about to be arrested for possessing a cigarette, As a radical union leader during the most turbulent years in American labor history, Haywood was accustomed to legal difficulties, usually related to his activities on behalf of the Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies). He tangled with the law in another way on the morning of June 16, 1909, in the Mint Saloon in Ellensburg, Washington, when he rolled a cigarette, put it between his lips and prepared to light up. He was promptly nabbed by a deputy on charges of violating a state law prohibiting the sale, manufacture
or possession of cigarettes. He attempted, to no avail, to get rid of the incriminating evidence by dropping it on the floor. After posting $15 ball, Haywood traveled on to nearby Yakima, went straightaway to the Hotel Yakima bar, took out his "makin's" and was arrested once again.
A week later, he was caught flagrante delicto in the town of Davenport. The charges in Ellensburg were dropped at the direction of the county prosecutor, who thought the law was unconstitutional, but Haywood was found guilty in the other cases. He paid a total of $9.50 in fines, plus $5.95 in court costs. "After all the indictments I had been subjected to, this was my first conviction," he wrote years later in his autobiography.
Haywood's record might have been further blackened had he ventured into any one of the nine other states that had similar laws on the books as of June 1909. In many ways, the antismoking movement of the 1980s is a model of restraint compared with one that began more than a century ago. Beginning with Washington in 1893, no fewer than 14 states outlawed the sale, manufacture, possession, advertising and/or use of cigarettes, aka coffin nails, white white slavers, dope sticks, paper pills, brain capsules, coffin pills and devil's kindling wood. At least 21 other states and territories considered cigarette prohibition.
Congress was asked to protect the public health by requiring that cigarette packages be stamped with a skull and crossbones, and labeled "POISON." Many employers refused to hire cigarette smokers, Nonsmokers said their health wits being jeopardized by "secondhand smoke." When U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop declared in May 1988 that cigarettes were as addictive as cocaine and heroin, he was echoing sentiments that had been expressed more than a hundred years earlier, As the author of one antitobacco tract put it in 1877, "So powerful are the charms of this foul narcotic that health and long life are sacrificed to it by millions." The New York Times reflected prevailing attitudes when it editorialized in 1884 that th "decadence of Spain began when the Spaniards adopted cigarettes and if this pernicious practice obtains among adult Americans the ruin of the Republic is close at hand."
Life has never been easy on Tobacco Road. The state legislators who passed anticigarette laws in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were members of a large fraternity of kings, emperors, popes and potentates who have tried, at various times and in various ways, to wean their constituents from Lady Nicotine, The first recorded legal proceeding against a smoker was initiated on ecclesiastical grounds in the 15th century. When Rodrigo de Jerez, a member of Christoplier Columbus' expedition who apparently learned to smoke in Cuba, lit up for the first time back home in Spain, the townspeople-alarmed by the smoke issuing from his mouth and nose-assumed he had been possessed by the devil. He was …