It seems incredible now, but during the Cold War years, members of the Americanpublic were bombarded with radiation. Tourists
watched nuclear testing from a ‘safe’
distance, as though they were watching a firework display!There are reports of company CEOs keeping radioactive bars on their desks aspaperweights. Other peculiar uses of radiation included
toilets (it’d glow as it flushed),
shoe fitting fluoroscopes and treatments for acne and freckles in beauty salons.Tragically many children and babies were radiated for thymus problems in the Fifties,only to develop cancer years later.
Although it had been practised since ancient times- shamans in the Americas usedtobacco to attain a trance state- smoking
didn’t reach our shores till the 16
century. Bythen it had gone from religious rite to social activity, quickly adopted by Europeantraders. Not everybody was keen: James I wrote a polemic,
A Counterblaste to Tobacco,
and tried to enforce a 4000% tax increase.Before the 1940s, objections to smoking were as likely to be socioeconomic as moral orhealth related. In 1950 Richard Doll published the first study to draw links betweensmoking and lung cancer; a few years later it was made official. This about-turn finallyconvinced a sceptical public- doctors had endorsed them as health aids.