Words of wisdom on 'deadly' tobacco from an Elder

Published 23 May 2013
James Stuart outside the Church of Scotland Assembly Hall with his version of A Counterblaste to Tobacco

The health risks associated with tobacco are familiar, but what people may not know so much is the harm it can cause to the people who grow it.

The Church of Scotland General Assembly heard about the issues today from 92-year-old James Stuart, believed to be the oldest commissioner present at this year's meeting.

He took inspiration for his address from James Stewart, or James VI of Scotland and I of England, who made some less than positive comments about the "hateful" habit in his "A Counterblaste to Tobacco" over 400 years ago.

Mr Stuart told commissioners that the annual global death toll related to tobacco was expected to rise to 10 million by 2030, with the majority of the deaths occurring in developing countries.

He warned that health was just one part of the picture and that tobacco growers could find themselves trapped in a cycle of debt after entering into costly contracts to buy seeds and fertilisers.

The General Assembly heard that the environment could suffer if fertilisers used in tobacco growing end up in waterways and the food chain.

He also expressed concern over research linking tobacco farming to child labour.

Mr Stuart, an Elder from High Carntyne in Glasgow, has written his own "A Counterblaste to Tobacco", in which he charts the history of the product and offers advice to those seeking to give up the plant he renounced over 50 years ago.

He concluded his address to General Assembly by quoting James VI who said smoking is a habit "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".

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