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Play It Again is a section of the journal where we republish quotes, gaffes, and immortal lines from friends and foes of tobacco control. It is compiled by Gene Borio, the webmaster of Tobacco BBS, which is the premier tobacco newsgathering site on the internet. Send contributions (including an original version or photocopy of the sourced item) to him at Tobacco BBS, PO Box 359, Village Station, New York 10014-0359; fax 001 212 260 6825. Send quotes from online stories (including the full article) or scanned documents (in GIF or JPEG format),

 “Smoking is a custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black, stinking fume thereof nearest resembling the horrible Stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless.”

Source: James I of England, “A Counterblaste to Tobacco”.

 “Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)”

Source: Song written by Merle Travis for Tex Williams, a national hit in 1947. It includes the lyric “Puff, Puff, Puff, And if you smoke yourself to death”.

These quotes, along with terms like “cancer stick”, “poison sausage”, “little white slaver”, “smoker's cough”, and “nicotine fit”, are often used by tobacco apologists, witnesses and lawyers in an attempt to prove that everyone—well, except tobacco CEOs—has always known that tobacco was “bad for you” and addictive.

But it's not as if James or even Tex were scientists; nor were theirs the only voices being heard in society. And just because an idea is heard, it doesn't perforce mean that it is believed or given weight. This argument is a bit like saying people always knew extraterrestrial life was hidden behind comets (citing Marshall Applewhite), or that alligators prowled the sewers, or that the earth was flat.

In fact, you could just as well …

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