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Brief History Of Tobacco Use


Prior to the discovery of America that was made by Christopher Columbus in 1492, those people who were native to the land were growing and harvesting tobacco to smoke in pipes for both ceremonial and medicinal reasons. After seeing this for himself, Columbus brought tobacco back to Europe with him, although it was not until halfway through the sixteenth century that most people on the continent got to try it for the first time.

Mass production

Tobacco was first commercially grown by an Englishman called John Rolfe in the state of Virginia in the year 1612. In the short space of seven years, it became the biggest export coming out of the colony and continued for the next couple of centuries. During this time the leaf was mainly either smoke in pipes, chewed, or snorted as snuff. It was not until the 1800s that cigars and cigarettes became popular forms of consuming tobacco.

With the onset of the American civil war, the sales of cigarettes really boomed. However, they increased in popularity again with the invention of the industrial cigarette smoking machine, which allowed for them to be mass-produced in the late 1880s. One reason for the popularity of tobacco use was because the negative health effects of doing so were not fully known. In fact, some medics actually thought that it was a useful medicine to prescribe.

Negative Health Effects

It was at the start of the twentieth century that the full effects of smoking on health were first realized. One prominent piece of research was performed by a German doctor who found a pronounced link between smoking tobacco products and cancer. This was further backed up by another study just some 8 years later that found smokers having a shorter life span than none smokers. However, it was not until 1944 that the highly respected American Cancer Society started to warn smokers about the possible impact that tobacco could have on their health.

Ever since the detrimental impact that smoking has on the body has been identified, the tobacco industry has seen its profits impacted upon. This was not helped by the law that was passed in 1965 stating that all tobacco products sold must come with a warning sign on the packaging. A ban on all television, newspaper, and radio advertising followed in 1971. By the year 1990, it had become so apparent that smoking was impacting upon the health of the nation that it was banned on all airplanes and buses in the United States of America.

The Future

With the laws around holding manufacturers liable for the ill health of anyone using their products, it has seen a rise in ‘healthier’ alternatives to smoking coming to market. This includes products such as vape pens and fake chewing tobacco, that is free from any actual tobacco. What is certain then is that there is still a market given the popularity for these types of products, it just needs to change with the changing appetite of its customers.

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