Victorian London - Health and Hygiene - Spitting

The Londoner has rid himself of the trick of spitting. In clubs, years ago, it was a part of the duty of a smoke-room waiter to see that each member, on lighting a cigar, was furnished with a brass spittoon placed conveniently near; in the roadway there was no disguise of the habit. Attempts were made to discourage it. 'Gentlemen,' it was said, 'who expectorate, cannot expect to rate as gentlemen.' Appeals were exhibited, begging folk to abstain. It was not, I think, until medical folk pointed out the danger, and public authorities began to talk of fines, that the procedure was altered, and men ascertained how unnecessary it was to spit. I am told that even America has dropped the custom.

W. Pett Ridge, A Story Teller : Forty Years in London, 1923