Tobacco usage, YorkCounts quality-of-life indicator: Rooted in York County’s past

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Starview United Brethren church — now a United Methodist Church — as it looked in 1914. A cigar factory, ubiquitious around turn-of-the 20th century York County, is seen at left. Background posts: York Daily Record columnist Jim Hubley’s last piece: ‘Good luck weeding out tobacco’ and Mother Goose teaches York County history lessons and York County cigars: ‘They contained a vast amount of nicotine’.

Ten-year-old YorkCounts has again added to community discussion in teeing up 38 quality-of-life measurements.
Important, that is, because if issues facing York County aren’t tracked, it’s difficult to assess progress.
Indeed, several indicators in the March 20 report show that the quality of life is improving in the county.
But, of course, while some categories work, others need work.
A vast amount of work.
To tackle many community issues, the YorkCounts coalition and other local leaders are facing decades of decisions that affect the quality of life today for better or worse.
So, I’ve provided brief historical background on six indicators, which we’ll explain in this and future York Town Square posts, to show how the past and the present may link up.
First, tobacco usage in York County:


YorkCounts comments: York County’s tobacco usage numbers indicate that it is not gaining or losing ground in the quit-smoking race. The county’s tobacco usage had been lower than the rest of the state until the most recent sampling period. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania’s usage has come down, and now is equal to York County’s.
Background:The county’s lower-than-statewide tobacco use is a bit surprising.
Cigarmaking was pervasive around here in the late-19th and the first half of the 20th century.
On a lighter note about this deadly serious topic, perhaps people were repulsed by the cigars they were rolling.
No one ever confused York County’s stogies with Havana’s smokes.
Which brings us to York County’s most-told smoking story, as told in “East of Gettysburg.”
When Jubal Early’s Confederates occupied York in late-June 1863, he asked Judge Robert Fisher if any property in York County would be contraband of war.
Fisher offered only one thing.
Cigars made from York County tobacco.
Early, a confirmed Virginian, was war of the quality of Northern cigars.
He declined Fisher’s offer.
For more posts on cigarmaking in York County, click here.
Other posts in this series:
- Farmland preservation, YorkCounts quality-of-life indicator: Ag use outpacing population growth
- Further education plans, YorkCounts quality-of-life indicator: Post-high-school prospects rising
- Teen motherhood, YorkCounts quality-of-life indicator: Despite historic occurrence among Pennsylvania Dutch, rate is falling
- High school graduation, YorkCounts quality-of-life indicator: Rising after a low start.
- Tobacco usage, YorkCounts quality-of-life indicator: Rooted in York County’s past.
- Bias-related incidents, YorkCounts quality-of-life indicator: ‘A concern in York County’ .

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. East Region Editor, Digital First Media. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
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