History of the cigarette and where was tobacco first discovered for smoking? When did the first cigarette appear? What provoked the popularity of cigarettes? Today we offer to understand in detail the history of the origin and development of cigarettes and get answers to your questions.
Tobacco in the ancient world
Tobacco, as a representative of wild flora, was known in antiquity in America, Europe, Asia, Africa. Tobacco leaves were burned in a fire, and its smoke stupefied people.
The first images of tobacco smokers found in ancient temples in Central America date back to 1000 BC. Tobacco was held in high esteem by local physicians: its medicinal properties were attributed to it, and its leaves were used as a painkiller.
Tobacco use was also part of the religious rituals of the ancient civilizations of the Americas: their participants believed that inhaling tobacco smoke helped to communicate with the gods. During this period, two methods of smoking tobacco were invented: the pipe became popular in North America, while cigars rolled from whole tobacco leaves became more common in South America.
Who discovered tobacco to the Europeans?
Christopher Columbus was the first European to encounter smoking tobacco. On his first voyage to the New World in 1492, he saw the people of the island of Cuba sucking the tightly twisted leaves of a plant. The plant was called kaoba and the pipes for the smoking mixture were called “tabaco”. Hence the word tobacco.
There are reports that Columbus, having tasted tobacco for the first time, did not appreciate it: he simply threw away this gift of the natives. However, several members of the expedition witnessed the ritual smoking of large twisted tobacco leaves and became interested in the process. After returning home, the tobacco lovers were accused by the Inquisition of contact with the devil. Despite this, the Spanish and Portuguese continued to bring tobacco leaves and seeds to Europe.
When did tobacco become popular in Europe?
The starting point of the active use and distribution of tobacco in Europe is considered to be 1560, when the French diplomat Jean Villemagne Nico gave tobacco to the Queen of France, Catherine de Medici, as a cure for the migraines she suffered from. At first, tobacco was known in the public mind as a panacea for all diseases. In Paris, tobacco becomes rabidly popular, and the name “nicotine herb” is assigned to the plant in honor of Jean Nico. But his story does not end there, in the XIX century scientists will find an alkaloid contained in tobacco, and will call it “nicotine” in honor of Niko.
A century after the discovery of America, tobacco was already being grown in Belgium, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and England. As trade links expanded, tobacco penetrated Siberia and other parts of Asia. At the end of the 16th century, Sir Walter Raleigh, an English aristocrat, avid smoker, sailor and poet, established several tobacco plantations, including in the American territories; he named one of them Virginia, which later gave its name to one of the most widespread tobacco varieties.
When did cigarettes become insanely popular?
Jordan Goodman, author of Tobacco in Human History, says that as a historian he is usually wary of blaming specific people, “but when it comes to smoking, I can say with certainty that James Buchanan Duke, also known as Buck Duke, is responsible for the emergence of cigarettes in the 20th century.”
The latter not only participated in its creation, but also developed the marketing and sales systems that made cigarettes spread to all continents.
In 1880, the 24-year-old Duke began a career in the production of ready-made cigarettes, which at that time constituted only a small part of the tobacco market. Employees at his small business in Durham, North Carolina, hand rolled cigarettes and wrapped the ends to keep the tobacco from drying out and spilling out.
A few years later, Duke saw an opportunity for growth. He met a young mechanic, James Bonsack, who was pursuing the idea of mechanizing cigarette production. Duke was sure that people would love the neat, smooth sticks made by the machine.
Bonsack’s cigarette machine revolutionized the tobacco industry. It rolled what was essentially one endless cigarette stick, and rotating knives cut it into pieces of the desired length. The open ends were impregnated with various additives: glycerin, sugar, molasses “to add flavor,” and chemicals to keep the tobacco from drying out.
Duke owed his first success to this advantage, as well as to active promotion of the product. As he had envisioned, people liked factory cigarettes. They could buy cigarettes that looked modern and were more hygienic than cigars contaminated by the hands and saliva of workers, which was specifically emphasized in one of the advertising campaigns.
Tobacco during the war
During World War I, cigarettes became an indispensable part of soldiers’ diet, they were recommended to be smoked to calm the nerves. Tobacco made it through World War II, Roosevelt declared tobacco a strategic wartime commodity, as it was not easy to buy cigarettes.
The golden age of the tobacco industry came in the post-war era: in the late 1940s and early 1950s, cigarettes were part of the image of many heroes and movie stars. In the 1950s, the first scientific publications on the dangers of tobacco appeared and the major tobacco manufacturers began producing filtered cigarettes. In 1960, warnings about the harm of smoking appeared on the packs for the first time. The 1980s were characterized by the beginning of a global offensive against tobacco: tobacco taxes in the United States and Western Europe increased by 85% during this period. In the 1990s, lawsuits were the top news story about the tobacco industry.