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JAMA 100 Years Ago
July 10, 2013

The Smoke Problem

JAMA. 2013;310(2):210. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.5199

Time was when a municipal smoke inspector reported, “I certify that I have inspected the smoke of this city for the thirty days past. I find plenty of smoke and apparently of good quality. Respectfully submitted.” Though much remains to be done with respect to smoke prevention, it is probable that such a report would not “go” in any American city to-day. The magnitude of the difficulties in combating this wide-spread evil, discomforting in so many ways and often so injurious to health, are not generally comprehended. The metropolitan health commissioner states that “perhaps no other cause of complaint gives rise to more dissatisfaction with the health department”1; yet its efforts to abate the nuisance have been unremitting. The department can usually do no more than establish the facts of a violation and ask the courts to convict. Though this procedure is usually effective in the case of small concerns, it is not of much avail with the great and powerful corporations which are often among the worst offenders.

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