Reading Summary Project


Margaret Young
March 3, 1998

"Lucy Page Gaston: The Woman Who Hated Cigarettes"
by Patrick Kiger


This article is written from the point of view of a time traveler who goes back to Chicago in 1913. While he is there, he meets Lucy Page Gaston, one of the first people in the US to start an anti-smoking campaign. Lucy Gaston was a journalist who started a magazine to promote clean living. In 1899, she started the Chicago Anti-Cigarette League, and aggressively recruited members by dragging them off the street. Later, in 1907, she caused the Illinois State Legislature to pass a law which virtually banned smoking. This law was later overturned by the State Supreme Court. In addition, she started one of the first stop-smoking clinics. However, many people did not pay attention to her because she could not prove her claims that cigarettes were harmful to health, and were the "work of the Devil." She died in 1924 of throat cancer.


I chose this article because I smoke, and everybody always seems to be criticizing smokers. Also, tobacco has been in the news a lot lately. I thought that this was a very clever article in the way that it presented facts. The author adds a lot of detail from the period, and the photographs from the time bring the article to life. Personally, I think it's too bad that Lucy Gaston didn't have more support. Although I agree with her position on banning cigarettes, I disagree with some of her reasons (the work of the devil), and her methods. I think that persuasion is always better than force. Also, if you read the article, you will see how they "treated" smoking at the clinic! (Ouch.) Another note--the vocabulary in this article is very difficult for non-native speakers. Good luck!


bold (adj) ~ aggressive, forceful
    boldness (n)
ban (v) ~ prohibit

"Occasionally she staged bolder forays, such as the night she burst in on one of the city's more notorious brothels and demanded that smoking inside be banned."

unsubstantiated (adj) ~ unproven
   substantiate (v) ~ prove
   substantiation (n)
evidence (n) ~ proof
   evident (adj)
   evidently (adv)

"It's the kind of shrill, unsubstantiated claim that will allow smokers to dismiss her as a fanatic and taint any legitimate warnings by doctors in the early 1900s, such as anecdotal evidence of the rise of a formerly rare disease, lung cancer."

impact (n) ~ effect
   impact (v) ~ affect

"Gaston's zealotry did have an impact."

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Written by Margaret Young 3/98; revised 12/99