Tobacco is a plant that grows natively in North and South America. It is in the same family as the potato, pepper and the poisonous nightshade, a very deadly plant.
The seed of a tobacco plant is very small, a one ounce sample contains about 300,000 seeds.
It is believed that Tobacco was first grown in the Americas about 6,000 B.C. and as early as 1 B.C., American Indians began using tobacco in many different ways, such as in religious and medicinal practices.
Tobacco was believed to be a cure-all, and was used to dress wounds, as well as a pain killer. Chewing tobacco was believed to relieve the pain of a toothache.
On October 15, 1492, Christopher Columbus was offered dried tobacco leaves as a gift from the American Indians that he encountered.
Soon after, sailors brought tobacco back to Europe, and the plant was being grown all over Europe.
The major reason for tobacco's growing popularity in Europe was its supposed healing properties.
In 1571, A Spanish doctor named Nicolas Monardes wrote a book about the history of medicinal plants of the new world. In this he claimed that tobacco could cure 36 health problems.
In 1588, A Virginian named Thomas Harriet promoted smoking tobacco as a viable way to get one's daily dose of tobacco.
During the 1600's, tobacco was so popular that it was frequently used as money. Tobacco was literally "as good as gold"
In 1760, Pierre Lorillard establishes a company in New York City to process tobacco, cigars, and snuff. Today, P. Lorillard is the oldest tobacco company in the U.S.
In 1776, during the American Revolutionary War, tobacco helped finance the revolution by serving as collateral for loans the Americans borrowed from France.
By 1820 the British Parliament passed an Act regulating production and the first excise taxes were promulgated.
In 1847, the famous Phillip Morris is established, selling hand rolled cigarettes and the tradition of smoking only cigars was transformed as cigarettes were directed towards the mass population whereas cigars had become a luxury only affordable to the elite of society.
Soon after in 1849, J.E. Liggett and Brother was established. Cigarettes became popular around this time when soldiers brought them back to England whilst cigars remained the most popular smoke in Europe as smoking spread to France, Spain and Germany. Cigarettes in the U.S. were mainly made from scraps left over after the production of other tobacco products, especially chewing tobacco. Chewing tobacco became quite popular at this time with the "cowboys" of the American west. In 1875, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (better known for its Reynolds Wrap Aluminium Foil) was established to produce chewing tobacco.
It wasn't until the 1900's that the cigarette became the major tobacco product made and sold. Still, in 1901 3.5 billion cigarettes were sold, while 6 billion cigars were sold. In 1902, the British Phillip Morris sets up a New York headquarters to market its cigarettes. The demand for cigarettes grew however, and in 1913 R.J. Reynolds began to market a cigarette brand called Camel. The use of cigarette exploded during World War I (1914-1918), where cigarettes were called the "soldier's smoke". During World War II (1939-1945), cigarette sales were at an all-time high. Cigarettes were included in a soldier’s C-Ration (like food).
Tobacco companies sent millions of cigarettes to the soldiers for free.
Virginia tobacco also called as Brightleaf tobacco, regardless of where in the world it is harvested. Prior to the American Civil War, most tobacco grown in the US was fire-cured dark-leaf. This type of tobacco was planted in fertile lowlands, used a robust variety of leaf, and was either fire cured or air cured. It grows particularly well in subtropical regions with light rainfall, such as USA, southern Brazil and Zimbabwe. TREASURER LONDON cigarettes are made mainly with Virginia tobacco.
Burley is a light air-cured tobacco used primarily for cigarette production. After being air-cured, the tobacco turns brown with virtually no sugars left in the leaf, giving it an almost cigar-like taste. It needs heavier soils and more fertiliser than Virginia. The best Burley is grown in the USA, Brazil, Malawi and Argentina.
Oriental is the smallest and hardiest type. Historically, it was cultivated primarily in Thrace and Macedonia, now divided among Bulgaria, Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, and Turkey but it is now also grown on the Black Sea coast of Turkey, in Egypt, in South Africa, and elsewhere. It is a highly aromatic small-leafed variety of tobacco which is sun-cured. Many of the early brands of cigarettes were made mostly or entirely of Oriental tobacco, today its main use is in blends of pipe and especially cigarette tobacco.