The History of Tobacco

People have been using tobacco almost since the beginning of civilization. The evolution of tobacco use has evolved with us overtime and it has become a prevalent part of many cultures.  Tobacco is a high profit crop and has been for hundreds of years. From its early uses to its modern products the tobacco plant has a unique and interesting history.

The History of Tobacco

The indian tribes of central and northern America were among the first users of the tobacco plant. Indians as early as 600 A.D. smoked tobacco. For many of these tribes tobacco was smoked during religious ceremonies using a pipe and was not used on a regular basis. Indians also smoked tobacco in pipes for medicinal purposes.

When early explorers began coming to America it was noted that tobacco was a valuable crop to the natives of the country. Many of these explorers, including Christopher Columbus were given tobacco as a gift by the Native Americans. Though these explorers brought the tobacco leaves and seeds back to europe with them its use did become popular until the early 1600s.

When the use of tobacco related products became popular, early American colonist began cultivating it their first cash crop. Eventually it became the colonist largest export. It was also the greatest source of income for the original settlers Jamestown, Virginia. The revenue derived from selling tobacco aided in funding the revolutionary war. Tobacco was even a cash crop for our very first president George Washington.

Chewing tobacco, smoking or hand rolling  tobacco cigarettes became increasingly popular in the 1800s. However, at the time daily use was not common.  The need for more crop and faster production eventually lead to the use of slaves in America. In the late 1800s the first commercial cigarette was made and was originally sold to civil war soldiers.

Later in 1881 a cigarette making machine was created and the first cigarette factory was opened. The first commercial cigarette brand was called Duke and Durham. Initially sales for the first commercial cigarette company were around 10 million cigarettes the first year the factory was open, but within five years one billion cigarettes were sold commercially. This company was owned the son by the maker of the first commercial cigarette Buck Duke and the maker of the first cigarette making machine James Bonsack.

Eventually, Buck Duke and his father started the first American tobacco company. They called the company The American Tobacco Company.  Their Company reigned supreme until the the early 1900s when Philip Morris Created the Marlboro brand cigarette.  By the mid 1900s cigarette production had reached 300 billion annually.

The Dangers of Smoking

In the early 1960s warnings about the dangers of smoking cigarettes were released by the United States surgeon general. Shortly after these warnings were released congress passed the Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act. This act made it al law that all cigarette had to carry a warning label about the dangers of cigarettes. In 1884 another law was passed by congress that forced tobacco companies label there packages with a more disparaging label. In the interest of public safety, the evolution of these laws continues today.