According to our favourite but unreliable history book, James I slobbered at the mouth and was “a bad king”, but it is somewhat doubtful whether this is a fair summing up of this frequently foolish monarch. He had his points, and he certainly had opinions he did not hesitate to voice. On the smoking of tobacco he wrote: “It is a custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs …” and much more besides, to the same effect, but he was quite unsuccessful in checking the growth of a habit (pleasant or pernicious, as you prefer) that during the last half‐century has reached dimensions far exceeding anything dreamed of by the wisest fool in Christendom. Right up to the present time, however, there has persisted in various places and among various classes of people, the feeling that there was something inherently near‐evil in tobacco smoking and there have long been organized movements to discourage the habit, although the grounds for these activities have often been rather vague. Smoking was said to stunt a boy's growth, it was a waste of money, and anyway it was something done purely for pleasure and must therefore by Victorian standards be “wrong”, or at least not quite proper.
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