History of smoking
THE HISTORY OF SMOKING
Cigarettes are a very familiar sight in today’s world but where do they come from? As you will see, if it weren’t for the actions of a few historical figures then maybe smoking wouldn’t play such a huge part in many people’s lives today.
For approximately eight thousand years tobacco has grown on earth. Circa 6000BC – tobacco started growing in Central America.
MEDICIANL TOBACCO DISCOVERED IN THE NEW WORLD
1000 BC – Mayan civilisation began to smoke and chew the leaves of the tobacco plant. They also mixed the leaves with herbs and other plants to make medicines for the sick and wounded. Ancient carvings show a priest smoking a tube pipe so smoking was an important part of their religious rites; it was used to communicate with the spirits.
The Mayans dispersed throughout the Americas and wherever they went the tobacco plant went too.
Christopher Columbus was a great explorer and probably the first European to see the tobacco plant. In 1492 he arrived in ‘San Salvador’ where the natives thought that he and his men were divine beings sent by the Gods. They presented Columbus with gifts including wooden spears, wild fruits and dried leaves. Columbus did not smoke; indeed he threw the leaves away!!
That same year another European by the name of Rodrigo de Jerez landed in Cuba and it is him who takes the title of first European tobacco smoker.
PIPE SMOKING – THE PRESERVE OF THE RICH OR POSSESSED!!
On returning home to Spain Rodrigo de Jerez stunned people by smoking in front of them. Imagine seeing for the first time a man with smoke coming out of his mouth and nose!! It was thought by many that he had been possessed by the devil and consequently he was imprisoned by the Spanish Inquisition for seven years. However whilst Rodrigo was incarcerated many Spaniards became regular smokers.
1530’s – Enterprising Europeans began to cultivate large tobacco farms in the Caribbean. The tobacco was exported back to Europe.
1571 – Monardes, a Spanish doctor wrote a paper listing 36 illnesses which he believed could be cured by tobacco. They included toothache, falling fingernails, worms, halitosis and cancer!!
1600 - Sir Walter Raleigh reputedly gave Elizabeth I of England a pipe to smoke, it made her so sick that she believed she had been poisoned. Sir Raleigh had been introduced to pipe smoking whilst on a trip to America where he had met Ralph Lane the Governor of Virginia. The British Colony of Virginia subsequently provided a great source of tobacco for the United Kingdom.
1604 – King James I of England was the first to impose a heavy tax on tobacco.
17th Century – by the beginning of the century tobacco was being regularly imported into the UK. Pipe smoking was very trendy and many people believed it would improve their health.
1665 – In response to the Plague boys at Eton Public school were made to smoke a pipe every morning in order to make them strong!! One boy refused his pipe and was flogged.
THE BIRTH OF THE CIGARETTE - SMOKING BECOMES CONVENIENT
1815 - Cigars reached Britain following the end of the Napoleonic wars. The Houses of Parliament even had a smoking room.
1828 – The pure form of nicotine is discovered – soon after scientists realise it is a dangerous poison
1852 – Matches are introduced making smoking more convenient.
Mid 1800’s – The cigarette as we know it began to be manufactured. Machines produced 200 cigarettes a minute and consequently the industry boomed. Cigarettes were now more easily affordable and available. Improvements in cultivation and processing had reduced the acid content in tobacco making smoking a more pleasant experience.
1856 - Soldiers returning from the Crimean war brought cigarettes from Turkey. A link between soldiers and smoking remained; they were even given cigarettes to smoke in order to keep them occupied during times of low morale. Smoking in the trenches spawned a whole generation of nicotine addicts.
1908 – Children’s Act bans the sale of tobacco to children under 16
1916 – Tobacco is included in army rations during the First World War.
SMOKING ATTRACTS THE LADIES
1925 - Post War with the male population hooked the tobacco manufacturers changed tactics and began to target the other side of the market. Advertising and glamorous Hollywood films were used to encourage ladies to smoke.
Still their popularity soared. There were no health warnings and innocently a whole generation became consumed with the habit of smoking.
1939 – 1945 - Second World War – American President Roosevelt made tobacco a protected crop. The fighting troops were smoking so many cigarettes that there were shortages of tobacco in the Americas and UK.
1947 – A 43% increase in cigarette tax causes a 14% drop in consumption amongst British men.
HEALTH WARNINGS BEGIN
1950’s - The first health warnings began – they had discovered the link between smoking and lung cancer. Drs Wynder and Graham published a study showing that of 650 men with lung cancer, 95% had been smoking for 25 years or more.
1958 – Salford opened the first health authority withdrawal clinic.
1964 – The US Surgeon General reported that smoking caused lung cancer. Advertising on television and radio was consequently banned. Health warnings on cigarette packets became compulsory.
1968 – A lettuce based non-tobacco cigarette brand is released. Without nicotine it fails to gain support.
1969 – The Radio Times implemented its own ban on cigarette advertising.
1971 – Smoking bans on public transport and in cinemas begins.
THE ANTI-SOCIAL ERA BEGINS
1980’s – Health warnings began to change social attitudes and rising taxes took their toll.
1982 – The British Medical Association asks the Government to ban all forms of tobacco advertising.
1984 – National No Smoking Day is launched; it remains an annual event during March.
1987 – Following the King’s Cross underground fire smoking and tobacco advertising is banned on the London Underground.
1988 – A USA court awarded damages against a tobacco company to the family of Rose Cipollone, a smoker who died from lung cancer.
1992 – The Home Office state that smoking can be listed as a cause of death on death certificates.
1996 – Guernsey’s States become the first government in the British Isles to ban tobacco advertising.
1999 – The UK Government follow Guernsey’s lead and ban tobacco advertising.
2003 – Large health warnings such as ‘Smoking is highly addictive, don’t start” appear on cigarette packets.
2004 – Ireland becomes the first country in the world to ban smoking in public places and workplaces.
2006 – Guernsey becomes the first part of the United Kingdom to ban smoking in public and workplaces.
2007 – England becomes smoke-free, following Guernsey’s example.
As interesting as the history of smoking may be, the fact remains that humanity could have done without it!
Today, the tobacco industry survives despite a wave of negative publicity. Scientists bombard us with new evidence to prove the addictive and deadly affects of the cigarette. As legislation in developed countries tightens so the tobacco manufacturers turn their attentions to less informed developing countries.