Tobacco Culture Criticism: Social And Economic Attitudes Toward Tobacco - Essay

James I (essay date 1604)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “A Counterblaste to Tobacco,” in Minor Prose Works of King James VI and I, edited by James Craigie and prepared for the press by Alexander Law, Scottish Text Society, 1981, pp. 87-99.

[In the following essay, originally written in 1604, King James I of England (who was also King James VI of Scotland) condemns tobacco use as a “vile and stinking” habit that that is corrupting the inhabitants of England both morally and physically. He considers it degrading for his subjects to “imitate the barbarous and beastly manners of the wilde, godlesse, and slauish Indians” by smoking.]

That the manifolde abuses of this vile custome of Tobacco...

(The entire section is 5086 words.)

G. L. Apperson (essay date 1914)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: The Social History of Smoking, Martin Secker, 1914, 255 p.

[In the excerpt below, Apperson assembles references to tobacco use from a wide variety of sources, including plays, pamphlets, and novels, to chronicle the varying degrees of acceptance of smoking as a social activity from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century.]


Tobacco engages
Both sexes, all ages,
The poor as well as the wealthy;
From the court to the cottage,
From childhood to dotage,
Both those that are sick and the healthy.

Wits' Recreations, 1640

This chapter and the next deal...

(The entire section is 31839 words.)

Joel Best (essay date 1979)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “Economic Interests and the Vindication of Deviance: Tobacco in Seventeenth Century Europe,” in The Sociological Quarterly, Vol. 20, No. 2, Spring 1979, pp. 171-82.

[In the following essay, Best demonstrates how in the seventeenth century “powerful persons and agencies” who had a political and economic stake in the tobacco trade between Europe and America succeeded in transforming tobacco into an acceptable product despite the persistence of social disapproval.]

Sociologists who analyze the invention of deviant labels typically emphasize the importance of differences in morality. They argue that new deviant labels are created when reform movements (or...

(The entire section is 5743 words.)

Janine Hartman (essay date 1994)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “Dangerous American Substances in Jacobean England,” in Cahiers Elisabéthains, No. 46, October 1994, pp. 1-7.

[In the following essay, Hartman examines the ways in which English theatrical entertainment of the seventeenth century reflected King James's distrust of commodities from the New World—in particular, tobacco.]

It is a truism that the English seek the exotic in order to reassure themselves that it is so much better to be British. That has certainly been true of England's élites, whether those courted by the masque writer or Agatha Christie. That parochialism which is a gentle joke in twentieth century mass market middle class fiction is a...

(The entire section is 3411 words.)