Since Native Americans discovered tobacco long times ago, it has been chewed, sniffed and smoked. The tobacco plant has a very long and interesting history, which is absolutely worth a read. It’s a plant, that it’s from the same family as potato and pepper – but is much more dangerous than the other two. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about tobacco – its origins, realization, and risks.
Back in time
Native Americans were the first who discovered tobacco. Legends say that it began growing about 6000 BC. American Indians started using tobacco for medical practices, as it was believed it cures everything – from relieving pain to dressing wounds. It became popular for such purposes around 1 BC. Back then, chewing tobacco was more common than smoking it. Besides the medical purposes, people used tobacco for religious practices as well.
It slowly spread across the continent, including the regions of Peru, Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador. The complex medical and religious rites it was known for has got even to the Mississipi area. There is written evidence left by some of the specific groups of Native America, saying that they truly believe that the rising smoke of tobacco revealed important religious and spiritual figures.
Tobacco Goes Global
The use of tobacco spread all over America. But how did it became known in Europe and other parts of the globe? During the times when Christopher Columbus discovered America, in 1492, he got dried tobacco leaves from the American Indians. It’s the first known contact, and the foundation of spreading and adopting tobacco in Europe. Even though he discarded it, this gift started a lavina that took tobacco all the way to Europe.
Columbus and two of his crew were the first non-American who sew and experienced smoking tobacco. The definition of smoking didn’t exist back then, so they described the phenomenon as “drinking smoke”. Rodrigo de Jerez, who arrived to the Bahamas with Columbo in 1492, was the first Europen who smoked tobacco.
As America wasn’t unreachable anymore, sailors had contact with Natives and they brought some tobacco plants to Europe. So Europe was next: people started planting and growing the plant as they believed it has extreme healing propoerties.
After it appeared in Europe, it rapidly went global. Using the trading routes, people rapidly took it to different spots on the world, such as Turkey, Russia and China. Later it got to Japan by Portugal traders and it reached Africa too. Within a few decades tobacco had reached the whole world.
New Tobacco Discoveries
During the 1600’s, tobacco was so popular that it was frequently used as money. It was not only used for medical purposes anymore, but enjoyment got in the highlight. People exchanged tobacco leaves for other products and it can be said that tobacco was considered “as good as gold”. This was also a time when some of the dangerous health effects of smoking were being discovered and realized. They also noted that not only the bad effects make it dangerous, trying to quit the bad habit of smoking is also extremely hard.
Shortly thereafter, in 1826, nicotine has been discovered. Scientist analyzed and tested the pure form of it and they came to the conclusion that it’s a dangerous poison. As it’s one of the elements of tobacco, it became even more clear that smoking tobacco is dangerous.
Even though it became clear that tobacco has bad health effects, it’s popularity continouslly grew. The first companies and brands popped up and started selling cigarettes.
In 1760, Pierre Lorillard establishes his company in New York City to manufacture cigars. His cigarette brand P. Lorillard is the oldest tobacco company in the U.S. But Pierre was not the only one who realised that selling cigarettes and tobacco is a profitable business. Philip Morris launched his business, the well-known Marlboro and many other cigarette and tobacco brands started back then.
Until the roaring twenties, it was not common to smoke cigarettes for women. Cigars and cigarettes were in the spotlight for soldiers during World War I and II, and as the society and perspectives changed in regards of the role of women, the tendency of smoking increased. Companies such as Camel, Lucky Strike and Chesterfield spent millions on advertising to encourage smoking. In a relatively short period of time, women smoking on the streets and in any public places became the symbol of their new roles. It was a trend, and it became the new normal.
It was discovered in the ’50s that smoking cigarettes is related and linked to lung cancer. It became a well-known fact. The tobacco industry denied such health hazards, but they came up with new products to react to the whole situation. They offered “safer”, more “health-friendly” cigarettes, which had lower tar and they also dropped filtered cigarettes.
How Are Cigarettes Made Nowadays?
Since the first filtered cigarettes, many things have changed. Tobacco companies developed new techniques and processes for producing cigars and cigarettes. Today, it’s not just tobacco wrapped in paper. It contains different chemicals and additives, that are all taken in when inhaling the smoke.
Risks and Dangers of Tobacco
It’s known that smoking is extremely dangerous and has terrible health effects. It increases the risk of developing more than 50 serious health problems. Some of them are fatal, while others can cause damage that is not reversible.
Lungs are put in an extreme risk when smoking, as everything a cigarette contains is taken straight to the lungs. The probability of developing asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia are unfortunately high. It causes cancer, that attacks the lung primarily, but mouth, throat, kidney, liver, and stomach cancers are also common. Smoking damages the blood circulations, increasing the risk to develop serious health problems such as heart attack an stroke.
It can be said, that it fastens up aging, discolours the skin and the teeth. It’s not only dangerous for the one who smokes, but his atmosphere is also in risk. Passive smoking has bad effects on the health.
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