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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

THE EFFECTS OF SMOKING ON COLLEGE STUDENTS

By Dr. GEORGE L. MEYLAN

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

THE question of the effects of tobacco upon the smoker has received much attention from moralists, educators, physicians and scientists. The literature on the subject is voluminous. Numerous investigators have experimented upon animals, mainly to determine the effects produced by nicotine. The results of these experiments show that nicotine when injected in animals acts as a strong poison, causing disturbances of the nervous, circulatory and respiratory functions. The problem of determining the effects of smoking upon human beings presents far greater difficulties than the effects of nicotine injections on animals. There is very little agreement in the conclusions reached by the many physiologists and physicians, who have investigated this problem.

Professor Lombard, of the University of Michigan, has shown that in from five to ten minutes after beginning to smoke an ordinary cigar muscular power began to diminish, and in an hour when the cigar was burned, it had fallen to about 25 per cent, of its initial value. The total work of the time of depression compared with a similar normal period was as 24.2 is to 44.8.

According to Dr. Woodhead, of Cambridge University:

Cigarette smoking in the case of boys, partly paralyzes the nerve cells at the base of the brain and this interferes with the breathing and heart action. The end organs of the motor nerves lose their excitability, next the trunks of the nerves and then the spinal cord. In those accustomed to smoking, it has a soothing effect upon the nervous system, but often acts as a nervous stimulant to mental work, as in reading. In those cases the effect is not due to nicotine itself but to the stimulus of the smoke on the sensory nerves of the mouth, which reflexly stimulate the vaso-motor system and dilate the vessels of the brain. There appears to be less irritation of the brain structure and motor nerves than of the sensory nerves, but the power of fine coordination is decidedly lost.

Dr. Clouston, the eminent English physician, writes on tobacco as follows:

The use of tobacco has become the rule rather than the exception among the grown men of Europe and America and of some parts of Asia. If its use is restricted to full-grown men, if only good tobacco is used, not of too great strength, and if it is not used to excess, then there are no scientific proofs that it has any injurious effects, if there is no idiosyncrasy against it. Speaking generally, it exercises a soothing influence when the nervous system is in any