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Celebrate your independence from tobacco

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Here in the United States, the 4th of July is the day Americans celebrate their independence from Great Britain. It was on this day in 1776 that the 12 colonies agreed on the text of the Declaration of Independence and the first copy was signed by John Hancock (President of the Congress). It is certainly appropriate to celebrate the birth of this great nation and I hope everyone in the U.S. (and Americans abroad) enjoys their barbeques and fireworks today.

However, I think it is also appropriate for all of you who have at one time been addicted to tobacco and managed to quit, to take a moment to celebrate your own independence on this day. Giving up smoking is no easy thing to do and many of you will have taken many attempts before finally succeeding.

There is also some irony in celebrating your independence from tobacco on the 4th, because in fact this great nation was partly built on the proceeds from tobacco farming. In 1609, John Rolfe arrived at the Jamestown Settlement in Virginia. He is credited as the first man to successfully raise tobacco for commercial use at Jamestown, having brought the preferred Nicotiana tabacum seeds with him from Bermuda. . Shortly after arriving, his first wife died, and he married Pocahontas, a daughter of Chief Powhatan. Rolfe made his fortune farming and exporting tobacco. In the 17th century the English government increased import taxes on tobacco by 4000 percent, (increasing dissatisfaction among colonists and moves towards independence). During its first century after independence, tobacco taxes accounted for a third of the internal revenue collected by the US government.

The need for cheap labor to drive the profitable tobacco industry was also a primary reason for the introduction of slavery in the south. At the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, almost 50% of the population of Virginia were African slaves, numbering almost half a million by 1860. So the first colony in America (Virginia), the introduction of slavery, and the opposition to British taxes were all largely based around the growth of the tobacco industry.

So here we are on 4th July 2007. Those who have achieved mental and financial independence from tobacco should give themselves a pat on the back for succeeding in freeing themselves from this most deadly addiction. For those readers who are still smoking, what better day to make your own personal declaration of independence?
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About the Author


MA, MAppSci, PhD

Dr. Jonathan Foulds is an expert in the field of tobacco addiction.

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