While researching the history of the Stuarts, I discovered some delightful pieces of information.
Elizabeth I did not trust tobacco – it made her sick. But she was also intrigued by it. Once, she bet Raleigh that he would be unable to tell her the weight of the smoke.
Raleigh was, always, a performer. He weighed an ounce of tobacco and cheerfully smoked it. When he had finished, he weighed the ashes. The difference between the two weights was, he declared, the weight of the smoke.
Laughing, Elizabeth acknowledged defeat, paid up and commented that she had often seen men turn gold into smoke, but this was the first time she’d seen a man turn smoke into gold.
The rational James I disapproved of smoking too, but there’s a reason why he’s called the ‘wisest fool of Christendom’.
He published an anonymous pamphlet titled Counterblast to Tobacco, where he said that tobacco was ‘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’.
The anonymous pamphlet was, of course, ignored.
Angered, James I published it again – with his name on it. At the same time, he banned the growth of tobacco in England and implemented a 4,100% increase in customs on import.
We all know what effect that had on smoking.