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October 20, 1900


Author Affiliations

Professor of Hygiene and Dietetics, Medical Department, Western University of Pennsylvania. PITTSBURG, PA.

JAMA. 1900;XXXV(16):999-1001. doi:10.1001/jama.1900.24620420013001f

Charles Dickens decided that, as a people, we lack the national instinct of cleanliness. He therefore designated Americans a nation of spitters. We no doubt deserve the designation, as the enlightened nations of Europe regard spitting on the floors and sidewalks as not only unsanitary, but an evidence of ill-breeding.

Five years ago the writer read a paper before the Allegheny County Medical Society recommending restriction and regulation of the spitting habit. Nine out of ten members who took part in the discussion agreed that restriction and regulation were needed. Six, however, of the nine thought any regulation impossible. "Women can, but men can not, change their filthy spitting habits."

The writer believed that most men had the natural instinct of cleanliness and could be educated in this respect up to the level with women; and further, that the ignorant, unteachable and vicious could be controlled by the absolute fiat.

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