Among the most common ailments of both young and old are coughs and colds; hence many patent cough mixtures have been manufactured and placed on the market for the consumption of a credulous public. Such “quick cures” almost invariably contain one or more narcotic drugs, and not only do not relieve the cold permanently, but occasion subsequent disorders. Even lozenges and pastilles are not free from fraud, but have a goodly proportion of narcotics, containing in some cases chloroform, morphine, and ether.
The widespread use of patent cough medicines is due largely to the fact that many persons avoid consulting a physician about so trivial an ailment as an ordinary cold, or are reluctant to pay a medical fee for what seems a slight indisposition and hence attempt to doctor themselves.
Catarrh is a very prevalent disease in America, and consequently numerous catarrh remedies have been devised, most of which contain in a disguised form the pernicious drug, cocaine. Laws have been enacted which require on the labels a declaration of the contents of the preparation, both as to the kind of drug used and the amount, and the choice of accepting or refusing such mixtures is left to the individual. But the great mass of people are ignorant of the harmful nature of drugs in general, and hence do not even read the self-accusing label, or if they do glance at it, fail to comprehend the dangerous nature of the drugs specified there. In order to safeguard the uninformed purchaser and to restrict the manufacture of harmful patent remedies, some states limit the sale of all preparations containing narcotics and thus give free rein to neither consumer nor producer.
241. Soothing Sirups; Soft Drinks. The development of a race is limited by the mental and physical growth of its children, and yet thousands of its children are annually stunted and weakened by drugs, because most colic cures, teething concoctions, and soothing syrups are merely agreeably flavored drug mixtures. Those who have used such preparations freely, know that a child usually becomes fretful and irritable between doses, and can be quieted only by larger and more frequent supplies. A habit formed in this way is difficult to overcome, and many a child when scarcely over its babyhood had a craving which in later years may lead to systematic drug taking. And even though the pernicious drug craving is not created, considerable harm is done to the child, because its body is left weak and non-resistant to diseases of infancy and childhood.
Many of our soft drinks contain narcotics. The use of the coca leaf and the kola nut for such preparations has increased very greatly within the last few years, and doubtless legislation will soon be instituted against the indiscriminate sale of soft drinks.