New York's Smoking Ban Far From The First: Smoking Bans Throughout History

05/25/2011 12:46 pm ET | Updated Jul 25, 2011
  • History.com/The Huffington Post

History.com - This week, New York became the latest U.S. city to forbid smoking in outdoor public spaces, including parks, beaches and pools. While we often think of bans and restrictions on cigarettes and tobacco products as a relatively recent phenomenon, such prohibitions have a long and complex history dating back to at least the late 16th century. Here are just a few of the many milestones in our ambivalent and ultimately devastating relationship with tobacco.

1590
Urban VII may have had the shortest papacy of any pope--he died of malaria two weeks after the death of his successor--but he nonetheless managed to issue the first anti-smoking edict in history during his brief reign. Anyone who "took tobacco in the porchway of or inside a church, whether by chewing it, smoking it with a pipe, or sniffing it in powdered form through the nose" would risk excommunication. The law remained on the books in various forms until 1724, when Pope Benedict XIII, a smoker himself, repealed it.

1635
King Louis XIII of France restricted the sale of tobacco to apothecaries and required customers to furnish a legitimate prescription from a doctor. A snuff user himself, he repealed the restrictions two years later.

1914
On March 9, 1914, the Senate unanimously agreed to outlaw smoking in its chamber. The ban was largely due to efforts by Senator Benjamin Tillman of South Carolina, who had sworn off tobacco and adopted a stringent health regimen after suffering a series of strokes. By that time, physicians had begun to raise concerns about the dangers of chronic smoking and the addictive nature of nicotine.