Friday, January 13, 2012

Evil of tea tippling among the poorer classes - 10 August 1872

Dr Arlidge, one of the Pottery Inspectors in Staffordshire, has put forth a very sensible protest against a very pernicious custom, which rarely receives sufficient attention either from the medical profession or the public.

He says that the women of the working classes make tea a principal article of diet instead of an occasional beverage; they drink it several times a day, and the result is a lamentable amount of sickness. This is no doubt the case, and, as Dr Arlidge remarks, a portion of the reforming zeal, which keeps up such a fierce and bitter agitation against intoxicating drinks, might advantageously be diverted to the repression of this very serious evil of tea tippling among the poorer classes.

Tea, in anything beyond moderate quantities, is as distinctly a narcotic poison as is opium or alcohol. It is capable of ruining the digestion, of enfeebling and disordering the heart's action, and generally shattering the nerves. And it must be remembered that not merely is it a question of narcotic excess, but the enormous quantity of hot water which tea-bibbers necessarily take is exceedingly prejudicial both to digestion and nutrition.

 In short, without pretending to place this kind of evil on a level as to general effect with those caused by alcoholic drinks, one may well insist that our teetotal reformers have overlooked, and even to no small extent encouraged a form of animal indulgence which is as distinctly sensual, extravagant, and pernicious, as any beer-swilling or gin drinking in the world.

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