A Black Lung, Tobacco, and King James I

The preserved lung finally reached my desk.  I was in 3rd grade and will never forget the experience.  It is permanently engraved in my mind.  I held the rectangular plexiglass specimen in my hand.  It contained a shriveled black lung inside from someone who smoked their entire life.  I studied it for a few minutes and passed it to the next eager student waiting to handle the object.  We were passed another specimen from a normal elderly person who had lived in the city.  Even though the lung had some blemishes, it was quite different from “the black lung”.  It was mostly white and plump.  I begged my loved ones to stop smoking.  Some did and are still alive.  Those that did not are no longer here.  King James I did not like tobacco smoke.  The King of England wrote that those who use tobacco are “vain and unclean”.  He wrote that the habit was ugly to the eye, unpleasant to the nose, affected the brain, and harmful to the lungs.  Tobacco was introduced to England by the natives when the Virginia Company set up business.  The business was separate from the king, but James let his people know that tobacco use was,  “that in your abuse thereof sinning against God, harming your selves both in persons and goods,…” .  Four hundred years ago people were warned about tobacco dangers.  The natives only used tobacco in special ceremonies.  They weren’t smoking one to two packs a day!  Many have resolved this new year to stop the filthy habit.  I pray them much success.

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