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Short history of Tobacco

Tobacco is a product prepared from the leaves of the tobacco plant by curing them. It contains the alkaloid nicotine, which is a stimulant, and harmala alkaloids. Dried tobacco leaves are mainly used for smoking in cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, and flavored shisha tobacco. They can also be consumed as snuff, chewing tobacco, dipping tobacco and snus.

The English word "tobacco" originates from the Spanish and Portuguese word "tabaco".

Within 150 years of Columbus’s finding “strange leaves” in the New World, tobacco was being used around the globe. Its rapid spread and widespread acceptance characterise the addiction to the plant Nicotina tobacum. Only the model of delivery has changed. In the 18th century, snuff slowly gave up his seat; the 19th century was the age of the cigar; the 20th century saw the rise of the manufactured cigarette, and with it a greatly increased number of smokers. At the beginning of the 21st century about one third of adults in the world, including increasing numbers of women, used tobacco

Tobacco has long been used in the Americas, with some cultivation sites in Mexico dating back to 1400–1000 BC. Following the arrival of the Europeans to the Americas, tobacco became increasingly popular as a trade item. One of the Spanish traveler was the first European to bring tobacco seeds to the Old World in 1559 following orders of King Philip II of Spain.

Thanks to a lot of seafarers at the time, smoking became an entrenched habit in both Spain and Portugal before long. By the end of the 16th century, tobacco plant and use of tobacco were both introduced to every single country in Europe.

Tobacco smoking, chewing, and snuffing became a major industry in Europe and its colonies by 1700.

In the late 19th century, cigarettes became popular. James Bonsack created a machine that automated cigarette production. This increase in production allowed tremendous growth in the tobacco industry until the health revelations of the late-20th century.

Cigarettes came to the height of their popularity during the First and the Second World War. Tobacco companies sent millions of packs of cigarettes to soldiers on the front lines, creating hundreds of thousands of faithful and addicted consumers in the process. Cigarettes were even included into soldiers basic rations – which contained mostly food and supplements, along with cigarettes.

The 1920s were also the period when tobacco companies started marketing heavily to women, creating brands such as ‘Mild as May’ to try to feminize the habit and make it more appealing to women. The number of female smokers in the United States tripled by 1935.

Tobacco and tobacco products are more regulated today. Companies have lost countless lawsuits and are now forced to clearly label their products as having a detrimental effect on the health of a person. Also, tobacco advertising is severely limited and regulated.

Still, tobacco companies make billions of dollars in revenue every year. It’s estimated that there are around 1 billion tobacco users in the world today.

At the moment, Virginia and Burley are the most commonly cultivated varieties of tobacco.

The best dominants of Virginia type tobacco grow in Europe, especially in Poland, France and Italy. Burley is still cultivated on a large scale in some African countries and in the USA.