Sunday, April 3, 2011

Harvey Washington Wiley Paradox

No explaination why Wiley, who served as the USDA Chief Chemist from 1883-1912, who admitted in 1922 that he recognized Tobacco's deleterious qualities within his first month of smoking at an unspecified time in the past, had fought so hard for a 1906 U.S. Food and Drug Act granting him the power to declare substances dangerous or deleterious to human health, yet limited to substances contained in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia, from which Tobacco had been conveniently deleted one year earlier in 1905.

What does tobacco do to us? There is in it a poison called nicotine so deadly that one full drop of it would kill an adult. A smaller portion of it taken for the first time by a boy makes him deathly sick. That gives warning of its poisonous character, but doesn't usually wean him from the folly. It did not in my case, for I speak as an ex-smoker. I quit at the end of my first week, after.

I had got over the nausea and had begun to enjoy "a good cigar." But I had already discovered that tobacco would hobble my brain and lead others to follow my bad example. Tobacco of any kind puts a soft-pedal on efficiency of mind and body. It puts us in a state of narcosis. We are half chloroformed.

It's a sweet story: Honey turned Harvey Wiley, M.D., the Institute's longtime Director of Food, Sanitation, and Health, into a passionate consumer advocate. Born in 1844, Wiley fought in the Civil War, went to medical school, then taught chemistry. In 1878, fiddling with a polariscope, a device for measuring stress in glass, Wiley examined various transparent foods and was shocked to learn that what companies were passing off as pure honey was mainly glucose. Thus began his lifelong campaign against mislabeled and dangerous products. He spent 29 years as the chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Chemistry, where he fought for the passage of the 1906 Pure Food and Drugs Act. At GH from 1912 to 1930, he alerted readers to food frauds such as the treatment of spoiled vegetables with chemicals to "revive" them. In 1911, Wiley sued Coca-Cola for failing to label the soda as containing habit-forming caffeine. He lost the headline-making case, but it paved the way for future truth-in-labeling laws.

Read more: Dr. Harvey Wiley Original Doctor at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute - Good Housekeeping

1916: We begin speaking out against the dangers of smoking and the effect advertising has in recruiting new smokers. "Unfortunately, there are many subtle ways of encouraging young men to smoke," writes Dr. Wiley. "Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent every year in telling the readers of periodicals of the merits of this, that, and the other brand of tobacco."

1921: Dr. Wiley links tobacco use to heart disease, noting that men smoke more and so suffer more heart disease than women. Seven years later, he warns women that use of tobacco is a cause of mouth, tongue, and throat cancer, more than 30 years before the U.S. Surgeon General officially acknowledges the connection.

1952: When European studies confirm that smoking causes cancer, GH bans cigarette advertising in the magazine — 12 years before the U.S. Surgeon General's pivotal report on the health hazards of tobacco, and 18 years before the Surgeon General's warning appears on cigarette packs. In 1978, GH's early antismoking efforts are commended by the American Cancer Society.

Read more: Good Housekeeping Research Institute Timeline – History of Consumer Advocacy - Good Housekeeping

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