21st Century Nicotine Maladies Versus Ancient Smoking


(Nicotine Part II)

When I stumbled upon the  research conducted by Hermann Niemeyer from the University of Chile in Santiago about  pre-hispanic societies consumption of nicotine, I was at first stunned.

Let  me explain:

As early as  100 BC  pre-hispanic societies were smoking “Nicotiana Tabacum”.

Thanks to traces of nicotine  found on a wide range of  well-preserved mummy hair samples, it was established that nicotine was part of the culture of all social classes. Let this be a warning to smokers today: hundreds of years from now,  future generations will look at our remains and analyze our lifestyles today.  Is this how we want to be remembered, as a technologically advanced civilization clinging to a 2100 year old habit? I hope you see the disparity.

How can we be so steeped into cyberspace and virtual reality,  and still lack good common sense and moral stamina when it comes to our health?

Today, large predatory tobacco industries in cahoot with governments are proliferating and polluting third world countries with  their cheap and deadly cigarette brands, under the guise of creating highly needed factory and plantation jobs. Let us not be fooled. These low -paying jobs are also exposing the workers themselves to deadly diseases.

Back in 100 BC, pre-hispanic peoples did not  have access to internet, and other media to warn them about the deadly consequences of their tabacco tradition. As a matter of fact, many did not even expect to live past 35 or 40 years anyway. Moreover, their government was not insidiously making money on their backs, nor were they smoking the thousand of chemicals added to nicotine today.

Professor Neumann clearly states: “The practice of smoking and snuffing … was deeply rooted in the culture and thinking of many pre-Hispanic societies. In the south central Andes, two plant sources of hallucinogenic compounds exist: nicotine-containing species Nicotiana (tobacco) and tryptamine-containing species of Anadenanthera ( cebil)” –LiveScience.com

Shamans were more clearly associated with the second type, because it allegedly helped them connect with their gods and spirits, and the first kind was found on the wide sample of 35 mummies. We will probably never know the amount of nicotine they ingested over a lifetime, or the damage done to their bodies. What has become evident to me, is how many of us have picked up this nasty habit. And we’ve done it not to be close to our gods, but seemingly out-of-the blue ( whatever socio-economic or psychic reasons may be invoked)). Unlike these early nations, we are knowledgeable about tabaccos health effects and we possess the technology to stop this addiction.

Lastly, let it be known that between 1998 and 2005 the amount of nicotine in cigarettes has gradually increased by an average of 1.6%. All main market categories of cigarettes were tested for this study (news-medical.net).  So as the proverb goes “the fool and his money are soon parted”. And in this case, that “money” is literal as well as metaphorical. What’s the metaphore? YOUR HEALTH. And you are fooling nobody but yourself.


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