Tobacco: Taking Lives since 1600

Tobacco: Taking Lives since 1600

Tobacco: Taking Lives since 1600 2340 1140 quitx

Love the occasional puff or daily dose of smoke? Well ever wondered about the origin of this addictive Substance.

Let’s take a glance at its journey into our lives.

The Discovery of Tobacco 

Tobacco has been a wildly growing plant in the Americas for nearly over 8000 years. It wasn’t until 2000 years ago that Tobacco began to be chewed and smoked during cultural or religious ceremonies and events. In fact,  Christopher Columbus was the first European to discover smoking. Tobacco was cultivated for the first time in Europe at Santo Domingo in 1531. The 1600s saw  Tobacco use spread across Europe and England and it is used as a monetary standard, a practice that continued throughout the following century. By the 1700s smoking had become more widespread and the Tobacco industry had developed industry. Its rapid spread and widespread acceptance characterize the addiction to the plant Nicotina Tobacum. Only the mode of delivery has changed. In the 18th century, snuff held sway; the 19th century was the age of the cigar; the 20th century saw the rise of the manufactured cigarette and with it a greatly increased number of smokers. The beginning of the 21st century saw about one-third of adults in the world, including an increasing number of women, use Tobacco. 

Tobacco: Dangerous since discovery 

  • Studies and written works show that one of the earliest known instances of smoking being linked to ill health came to light when illnesses impacting chimney sweepers caused by soot showed a lot of similarities and effects to illnesses caused by Tobacco.
  • 1700 brought to light cancers of the lip  which was seen predominantly in pipe smokers
  • Studies and research in the 1950s and 1960s drew conclusive evidence that  Tobacco caused a range of serious diseases.
  • The first link of Smoking to Lung Cancer was shown in medical reports in 1992 

How was the Cigarette born ?

  • The first Cigarette making machines were developed in the latter half of the 1800s. The first such machines produced about 200 cigarettes per minute whereas today’s machines produce over 9,000  cigarettes per minute. Mass Cigarette production flourished during this period owing to inexpensive mass production and the use of extensive cigarette advertising propelling Tobacco companies to expand their markets during this period.

The Growth and Decline of smoking in traditional markets

The prevalence of cigarette smoking continued to grow in the early 20th Century mainly as a result of many drivers:

  • Development of new forms of Tobacco promotion.
  • The ability of the Tobacco industry backed by its power and wealth to influence the policy framework of political parties.
  • Owing to the free policy of providing free cigarettes to allied troops as a morale booster during the world wars, there was a drastic increase in smoking of Tobacco.
  • The rapid increase in information and awareness around the negative health effects of active and passive smoking in the latter part of the 20th century led to a decline in its popularity amongst the masses. This period also bore witness to the first successful lawsuits against Tobacco companies accused of attributing to negative health effects.
  • People began to unmask the Tobacco industry’s unethical efforts to mislead the public about the health effects of smoking in a bid to override public policy in order to boost the industry.

The Smoking Trends Today 

Owing to the decline in the number of smokers in the traditional markets of North America and Western Europe, the Tobacco industry has re-focussed its promotional efforts onto the less developed and emerging nations in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the former Soviet Union and Latin America.   These nations have a weak regulatory framework which has further encouraged the industry to target populations in these nations. Studies and research show that if Tobacco consumption patterns sustain as they are as of today, Tobacco use will kill approximately 10 million people every year throughout the world with 70% of these deaths occurring in less developed and emerging nations.