The anti-nuisance motive follows closely upon the drawing of sharp lines of time and place for the use of tobacco. Like treason, smoking in the presence of nonsmokers can be considered respectable only when the numbers who profess and practice it are numerous. If the two first-mentioned weapons are effectively used, there will be an increasing proportion of nonsmokers and not-yet-smokers who will give attentive ear to proof that nicotinism is a nuisance. The physical evidences of the cigarette habit can easily be made distasteful to all nonsmokers if frankly pointed out,—the yellow fingers, the yellow teeth, the nasty breath, the offensive excretions from the pores that saturate the garments of all who cannot afford a daily change of underwear. The anti-nuisance argument is always insidious and abiding. In the presence of nonsmokers accustomed to regard tobacco using as a nuisance, smokers become self-conscious and sensitive. Men and women alike would prefer a reputation for cleanliness to the pleasures of tobacco. The educational possibility of fighting tobacco with the name "nuisance" was recognized the other day by an editorial that protested against a law to prevent women from using cigarettes in restaurants. "The way for any man who has the desire to reform some woman addicted to the cigarette habit is insidiously and gently to point out the injurious effects on her appearance. Cigarette smoking stains a woman's fingers and discolors her teeth. It also tends to make her complexion sallow and to detract from the rubiness of her lips. It bedims the sparkle of her eyes. It makes her less attractive mornings." Chewing has practically disappeared, not because it ceased to soothe excited nerves but because it was seen to be a nasty nuisance.
Finally, the selfishness of the smoker is a nuisance that continues only because it has not been called by its right name. "Do you mind if I smoke?" was a polite question two hundred years ago when tobacco was rare enough to make smoking a distinction, or fifty years ago when everybody smoked at home and in public. But it is effrontery to-day when people do mind, when smoking pollutes the air of drawing room and office, and while soothing the excited nerves of the smoker lowers the vitality of nonsmokers compelled to breathe smoke-laden air. It is selfish to intrude upon others a personal weakness or a personal appetite. It is selfish to divert from family purposes to "soothing excited nerves" even the small amounts necessary to maintain the cigar or cigarette habit. It is selfish to run the risk of shortening one's life, of reducing one's earning capacity. Because the tobacco habit is selfish it is anti-social and a nuisance, and should be fought by social as well as personal weapons, as are other recognized nuisances, such as spitting in public or offensive manners.
The economic motive for avoiding and for eliminating tobacco is gaining in strength. The soothing qualities of all drugs are found to be expensive to physical and business energy if enjoyed during business hours. Strangely enough, employers who smoke are quite as apt as are nonsmokers, to forbid the use of tobacco by employees at work. Some of this seeming inconsistency is due to a dislike for cheaper tobacco or for mixed brands in one atmosphere; some of it is due to the smoker's knowledge that "soothing nerves" and sustained attention do not go hand in hand, while "pipe dreams" and unproductive meditation are fast companions; finally no little of the opposition to tobacco in business is due to fear of fire. These various motives, combining with the anti-nuisance motive among nonsmokers, have led many business enterprises to prohibit the use of tobacco in any form on their premises or during business hours, even when on the premises of others. Notable examples are railroads that permit no passenger trainman to use tobacco while on duty. (Freight trainmen are restricted more tardily because the risk of damages is less and the anti-nuisance objection is wanting.)
From penalizing excessive use and prohibiting moderate use in business hours, it is a short cut to choosing men who never use tobacco and thus never suffer any of its effects and never exhibit any of its offensive evidences. No young man expects to obtain a favorable hearing if he offers himself for employment while smoking or chewing tobacco. Business men dislike to receive tobacco-scented messengers. Cars and elevators contain signs prohibiting lighted cigars or cigarettes. Insurance companies reject men who show signs of excessive use of tobacco. Why? Because they are apt to die before their time. The Interborough Rapid Transit Company of New York City rejects applicants for motormen and conductors "for excessive or long-continued use of tobacco." Why? Because, other things being equal, such men are more apt to lose their nerve in an emergency and to fail to read signals or instructions correctly.
Armed with these weapons against tobacco, parents and teachers can effectively introduce physiological arguments against excessive use, against use by those who suffer from nervous or heart trouble, and against any use whatever by those who have not reached physical maturity. By avoiding physiological arguments that children will not—cannot—believe contrary to their own eyes, parents and teachers are able to speak dogmatically of that which children will believe,—injuries to children, evils of excess, restrictions as to time and place, and offensiveness to nonsmokers. But even here it is wrong, as it is inexpedient, to leave the physical strength of the next generation to the persuasive power of parents and teachers or to the faith and knowledge of minors. Society should protect all minors against their own ignorance, their own desires, the ignorance of parents and associates, and against the economic motive of tobacco sellers by machinery that enforces the law.