Nicotine: The Heart Poison (1867)

The Christian Recorder embodied secular as well as religious material, and included good coverage of the black regiments together with the major incidents of the Civil War. The four-page weekly contained such departments as Religious Intelligence, Domestic News, General Items, Foreign News, Obituaries, Marriages, Notices and Advertisements. It also included the normal complement of prose and poetry found in the newspapers of the day.

The Last Cigar

(Philadelphia, December 14, 1867) One of the most eminent physicians of this city, and deservedly so, attributes the premature death of three of the most eminent divines of this country to the inveterate use of tobacco. The recent death of one of the great financial and political leaders in Paris has directed public attention to the subject. In reading the facts, let every man who smokes take notice.

M. Fould wrote to several people, inviting them to his estate, and giving some account of his late hunting experiences. The fable was set at six o’clock, but the dinner had scarcely begun when M. Fould was seized with a fit of shivering and complained of sudden pains in the arms and hands. At the entreaty of Madame Fould, he left the room, and went to bed, asking to be left alone saying that it was but a slight indisposition and he wanted to sleep. At half-past seven, Madame Fould went up to the room to see how he was, and receiving no reply to her question, thought he was in a deep sleep and withdrew. At nine o’clock she went again, and, receiving no answer from him, hastened to his bed, took his hand, and found he was dead. It is believed that he died immediately after he got into bed. The remains of M. Fould were interred in the Protestant cemetery, at Pero La Chaise, where the deceased had a family vault constructed.

Nicotine, the redoubtable poisonous principle of tobacco, acts as a heart poison. In experimenting on animals, one eminent physiologist, Claude Bernard, observed that it paralyzed the central organ of the circulation, thence sudden death. A dose insufficient to kill nevertheless produces symptoms analogous to those of angina pectoris. One of the most distinguished physicians of our time, M. Beau, who died two years since, read a memoir at the Academy of Sciences, in 1862, in which he showed, by a very considerable number of observations made during his practice, the influence of tobacco smoking, and especially in the form of cigars, in producing angina pectoris . He remarked that the cigar chiefly has this dreadful result upon an impressionable person, who leads sedentary lives, and whose minds are constantly on the stretch.

Two years later another physician, Dr. E. Decaisne, adduced a series of upwards of a hundred cases respecting the pernicious action on the functions of the heart caused by smoking tobacco. This is now an accepted point in medical science, and there is scarcely any practitioner who does not prohibit smoking, or, at least, who fails to recommend the greatest moderation in it to such of his patients as are liable to even the slightest perturbation of the functions of the heart.

Now M. Fould, who was a smoker, and subject to palpitations of the heart, evidently had a slight attack of the angina pectoris in the morning, to which he paid little attention, and then, in the evening a violent and mortal attack. In the interval a cigar was smoked: who can say that this cigar was not the last straw which broke, etc.?

Source: The Christian Recorder, December 14, 1867

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