In the midst of so much social hysteria and propaganda of fear, it is a pleasure to find some serenity and common sense in the statements of some doctors about the benefits of tobacco. According to recent studies, smokers may be more resistant to the new plague. This is a wonderful discovery for tobacco lovers, who have suffered decades of jihadist prosecution for their virtuous vices.
Many doctors recoil in shock when checking the statistics of those infected, whether the patients are smokers or not. We are already with the mathematical strip-tease: “Statistics are like bikinis: What they reveal is suggestive but what they conceal is vital.”
In the New World, a paradise without a mania for overdressing, the pantheistic Indians already knew about the healing powers of tobacco and considered their holy smoke a communion of man with the divine.
The art of smoking soon spread throughout Spain, thanks to Rodrigo de Jerez and Luis de Torres, who had accompanied Christopher Columbus. In England the smoking ambassador was Sir Walter Raleigh, gallant pirate and man of letters who lost his head with that first anti-tobacco Taliban that was James I.
In France Catherine de’ Medici (always curious about poisons and elixirs) was tobacco’s great supporter, thanks to the wise advice of doctor Jean Nicot, who considered the new plant a panacea and patented alkaloid nicotine with his name.
Since its American export to the rest of the planet, most artists, priests, and doctors have been great fans of tobacco. Only in the Anglo-Saxon world did it go from love to hate. During Victoria’s long reign, tobacco was so frowned upon that the French ambassador had to lie down on the floor and stick his head into the fireplace in order to take a drag. Then came her son Edward, who fortunately was a bon vivant, a lover of peace and the joys of life. His first order was a generous “Gentlemen, you may smoke.”