Monday, February 11, 2008

Tobacco Origins and History

Tobacco and cigarettes has a long history dating. The tobacco plant is believed to be widely spread in America since the 1st Century.

The written history of cigarettes dates back to the early 16th century when Spaniards conquerors witnessed the Aztec Indians smoking an ancient cigarette, it was a cane or reed tube stuffed with tobacco.

It was the Spaniards who introduced the cigar in the old world. Early in the 16th century, beggars of Seville picked up discarded cigar butts, shredded the contexts rolled them back in paper and termed those as cigarillos.
Cigarettes spread through Europe in the wake of the Napoleonic wars and became common towards the middle of the century.

A cigarette factory was established in 1853 but it was after the Crimean war where British got the first taste of cigarettes, which was the outset of cigarette’s immense upcoming popularity. The French were the people who gave cigarettes their present name, which meant ‘little cigar’.

In 1882, the cigarette was a specialty item made by hand, sold for a penny apiece, and very much the stepchild of other tobacco products. However, that was about to change.

An automated cigarette rolling machine, developed by 18-year-old James Bonsack, was put into use in 1883 and revolutionized cigarette production. The retail price was cut in half, and volume, which in premachine days had never exceeded 500 million, leaped to 10 billion by 1910. American Tobacco was able to take advantage of this new technology and, like Standard Oil, was such a success that it, too, and was broken up by the feds in 1911.

In the 1840s the cigarette industry was born, although cigarettes were still rolled by hand, mainly by women. In 1881 the cigarette-rolling machine was invented, increasing production exponentially. Offering a cigarette and a light became a ritual of sociability. The two World Wars helped spread the habit widely.

During the 1920s women took up smoking as a sign of modernity. The development of mass media and advertising in the late 19th and 20th Century played a decisive role in securing the popularity of cigarettes . Today 93 percent of the world's tobacco is consumed as cigarettes .