For the first time tobacco was discovered thousands of years ago and is considered a native plant of the Americas.
But, communities in the Andes controlled tobacco growing at a much later time. Supposedly it was between 5000 and 3000 BC.
Gradually tobacco was not only in the Andes, but it was spread in on to the colonies, islands and continents beyond. Tobacco was in great demand and this was a motive for transportation of tobacco for cultivation to countries all over the world.
Throughout the history, tobacco experienced the changes in tastes and fashions, variations in cultural status, political and trading importance.
Tobacco was used not only for chewing or smoking. South American tribes, for instance, used it as an insecticide. Many early civilizations included its use into sacred rites.
How tobacco was used
The first way tobacco was used was tobacco chewing.
Scientists have also supposed that “snuffing” – inhaling of powdered tobacco through the nose – was before smoking. Snuffing tubes were discovered in the Americas.
Firstly the early Spanish explorers tried smoking tobacco leaf. Tobacco leaf was wrapped in corn husk in order to produce the forerunner of the cigarette.
As cigars are larger in size, they are wrapped in the tobacco leaf itself.
The Spanish explorers as well cultivated plants in botanical gardens as a medicinal curiosity.
Fashion and debate
Nowadays, tobacco is a highly adjusted product and there is always considerable debate about it. Throughout its history tobacco has been the subject of contrasting opinions, and fashions.
For example, Beau Brummell made snuff popular in Regency England. Then he made it popular in Royal circles and among the population at large.
Some monarchs used it (Queen Charlotte – wife of George III of England – was known as ‘Snuffy’ Charlotte). But, of course, there were those who disliked it. The first English anti-smoking pamphlet, A Counterblaste to Tobacco, was published in 1602.
Today, tobacco companies do everything possible so that those adults who enjoy smoking can have the highest quality tobacco products from the most reputable, reliable source.
Unavoidable, tobacco has political and financial significance as the use and cultivation of tobacco is steadily increasing. The areas where tobacco was grown became highly valuable.
Virginia in the United States can be an example of this fact. In the short period between 1618 and 1640 the yearly size of the tobacco crop in Virginia increased from 20,000 pounds to 1.5 million pounds. The tobacco trade was conducive to the population growing from 18,000 to 78,000 during that time.
Financial gain from tobacco was sought not only by growers and manufacturers of tobacco products. Elizabeth I of England imposed a tobacco tax at two old pence (less than one penny) per pound. King Philip III of Spain tried to control cultivation by establishing tobacco could only be grown in Spanish colonies.