Today it is hard to find someone who does not know what tobacco is and how it is used. True, few people know when tobacco appeared, and with it the addiction of tobacco smoking. There is no unequivocal opinion among historians about the emergence and beginning of tobacco smoking. If inhalation of smoke from burning any plant is considered as smoking, then its history began many thousands of years ago. This statement is supported by drawings found in Indian temples, in which the priests inhale aromatic smokes. Images of smoking pipes have also been found. Similar pipes were found in the tombs of ancient Egyptian nobles. The Scythians also inhaled the smoke from burning leaves, as described by Herodotus who lived in the 5th century BC. Similar descriptions can be found in the ancient Chinese chronicles. Historians suggest that smoking by inhaling the smoke of plants was used in ritual ceremonies.
Ancient images of smoking people in the temples of Central America give historians the opportunity to suggest that the cultivation and smoking tobacco started here about 1000 years before our era. The Mayan Indians were the first to chew and smoke tobacco leaves. A mixture of healing herbs and leaves as an anesthetic was applied to the wounds of the sick. The ancient civilization believed that tobacco smoke during religious rituals freed the mind to communicate with the spirits of the ancestors or their gods. Thanks to the Maya Indians, tobacco plants spread throughout the Americas. True, the methods of smoking were different. While people in the North preferred to smoke pipes, Southerners smoked cigars made from tobacco leaves.
According to many accounts, the first Europeans to attempt to smoke tobacco were the Spanish, led by Columbus, who landed on the island of San Salvador in 1492. They witnessed the islanders smoking tobacco leaves rolled into pipes and dried in the sun. As a token of their friendliness, the natives smoked the “pipe of peace” with their guests. This amazing custom did not interest Columbus. As a parting gift, he received a bundle of tobacco leaves, called tobaca or tobago. Not attaching any importance to this, Columbus immediately disposed of the uninteresting gift. Tobacco leaves and seeds were delivered to Spain by a member of the expedition, friar Roman Pane, though as an exotic ornamental plant. But Rodrigo de Jerez, who went on the expedition after Columbus, landed in Cuba. Here he not only observed the process of smoking, but became addicted to it himself. Jerez returned to Spain with holds full of tobacco. For his addiction to smoking he was condemned by the Inquisition and spent a long time in prison. The man who let the smoke come out of his nostrils and mouth seemed to them to be possessed by the devil.
The emergence of tobacco in Europe
Despite all persecution, the leaves and seeds of tobacco began to be imported in increasing numbers to Europe by Spanish and Portuguese sailors. The French ambassador to Portugal, J. Nicot, contributed to the spread and popularity in Europe. Nico. In 1561 he sent dried tobacco leaves as a gift to Catherine de Medici. He advised the French queen to inhale the aroma of these leaves in case of migraine. The effect was intensified when it was ground into a powder. The proposed remedy really helped the queen and soon tobacco became a panacea for many ailments. The scientific name Nicotiania is in honor of Jean Nico. In 1828, one of the main harmful substances in tobacco leaves was discovered and also named after him – nicotine. In small doses, it has an arousing effect which encourages people to smoke. But over time, this poison accumulates in the body and poisons it. At the time of Louis XIV an element of court etiquette was the sniffing of tobacco. The famous sea pirate F. Drake introduced tobacco to England in 1586. At the end of 16th century it becomes popular in Western Europe, tobacco begins to be cultivated in Turkey, at that time merchants brought it to Russia. In XVII century, tobacco is already known in Japan, China and other Asian countries.
Appearance of tobacco in Russia
First tobacco to Russia was imported by merchants from England during the reign of Ivan the Terrible. At the same time from the south Cossacks imported tobacco, who adopted the habit of smoking clay pipes from the Turks. But this intervention of tobacco smoking was not so massive at first.
Over time, the Russian nobility also begins to adopt this harmful habit from mercenary officers from Europe, and already during the reign of Tsar Mikhail Romanov, due to widespread use of tobacco among the nobility, the attitude to tobacco smoking quickly changes. Tobacco is outlawed, all imported tobacco is burned, and smokers and merchants who sell tobacco are subjected to corporal punishment and fines. And after the Moscow fire in 1634, which was caused by smoking, they issued a decree on the introduction of the death penalty for smoking tobacco.
In 1646 the new Tsar of Russia, Alexei Mikhailovich, who tried to weaken this law and monopolize the sale of tobacco, encountered opposition from the church – the powerful Patriarch Nikon of that time, who called for the restoration of the death penalty “for smoking the God-awful potion.
It can be said that the real history of tobacco in Russia begins in 1697, when Tsar Peter Alexeyevich, after learning the maritime business in Holland and being addicted to pipe smoking, legalizes tobacco and works out the rules of its distribution and use: tobacco smoke was allowed to inhale and exhale only with a smoking pipe. And in 1705 Peter the Great established two tobacco factories: in St. Petersburg and in Ukraine, in the city of Akhtyrka.
By the mid-18th century tobacco had become so popular in St. Petersburg that not a single assembly or celebration could go on without it.
Later, during the reign of Catherine the Great and the rapid growth of domestic entrepreneurship, in St. Petersburg foreigners opened the first tobacco shops, where they produced smoking tobacco for pipes in small quantities. Naturally, all tobacco was imported from England and Holland. Also, in the second half of the 18th century, snuff became popular, imported from Spain, France and Germany.
Along with imported tobacco, Russia began to grow local tobacco, the basis for which was the variety Nicoriana Rustica, or in Russian – mahorka.