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Tobacco Fact Sheet

The Huron Indian mythic stories say that in prehistoric days, when people did not know how to cultivate crops and lands were barren, the Great Spirit sent a holy woman to save the human race. As she was walking along the barren land, where her right hand touched, there grew potatoes and where her left hand touched, there grew corn. She sat down to take rest after making the world fertile, after some time she rose up to leave the earth, there, where she sat, grew tobacco!

Early History
Christopher Columbus for the first time introduced tobacco in Europe as he brought a few leaves and seed from America . Tobacco was first used by pre-Columbian Native Americans. They cultivated the tobacco plants and used to smoke in a pipe for some medicinal effects and during ceremonies. Till the mid of 16 th century, most of the Europeans were not aware of its existence, though it was introduced by Columbus . They waited until the great adventurer and diplomats like Jean Nicot from France popularized tobacco. Nicotine was named after Jean Nicot who actually propagated the use of tobacco.

Tobacco Introduction Year

France ----- 1556

Portugal ----1558

Spain ------- 1559

England ----- 1565

The first crop of tobacco was cultivated by an Englishman named John Rolfe in the year 1612 in Virginia for first commercial purposes and within seven years it turned out to be the largest export for the colony. It was one of the important reasons behind the increased demand of slave labors.

Styles of Tobacco Use 

Initially, tobacco was used mainly for chewing, pipe smoking and sniffing. The cigarette was found in its unsophisticated form in early 1600s. Cigarette became popular in the United States with the introduction of bright tobacco during Civil War, a unique type of tobacco leaf which was yellow and was grown in Virginia and North Carolina . Cigars became popular during 1800s. In the late 1880s cigarette sales rushed forward again with the introduction of the white burley tobacco leaf and the invention of the primary cigarette manufacturing machine which was sponsored by tobacco baron James Buchanan "Buck" Duke.

Reader's Digest's Warning 

The adverse health effects of tobacco were not known during the former years of its use. In fact, the European doctors believed like the North American natives that it has medicinal effects. With the increased use of tobacco in the society by the early 20 th century, the medical world started to take the issue seriously and investigated into the effects of cigarette smoking. Slowly, the medical and scientific journals started to address the health concerns due to cigarette smoking.

>> The researchers in Cologne , German published a statistical correlation between cigarette smoking and cancer in the year 1930.

>> Dr Raymond Pearl from Johns Hopkins University stated in the year 1938 that cigarette smokers do not live long as compared to the non-smokers.

>> The American Cancer Society started warning about the health effects of tobacco use by 1944, but at the same time it had to admit the non-existence of evidence to prove the link between smoking and lung cancer.

>> In 1952, Reader's Digest published an article titled: “ Cancer by the Carton ” giving the details of dangers of smoking which had enormous effect on the public and similar reports started to publish in other periodicals. Next year, cigarette sales declined for the first time after its two decades of introduction.

Healthier Smoke 

In the year 1954, the main US tobacco producers formed Tobacco Industry Research Council to counteract the rising alarm of tobacco use. The new mass marketing by the council of TIRC presented filtered cigarettes with low-tar formulation with a promise of ‘healthier smoke'. The smoking people responded positively and soon the tobacco sales boomed again.

Surgeon General's Warning

 Surgeon general's Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health came as a big-blow on the nose of the tobacco industry in the year 1960. The committee released a 386-page report on smoking and health in the year 1964 casually relating smoking to lung cancer. It reported that smoking population is ten times more likely to have lung cancer compared to non-smokers and also mentioned about the chemicals in tobacco, specifically carcinogens in cigarette smoke, including cadmium, DDT, and arsenic.

Present Tobacco Scenario 

The tobacco industry is running more or less profitably since the Surgeon General's report was published. However, the government has taken a few steps forward to control the growing market of tobacco;

1965: Congress passed the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act requiring the surgeon general's warnings on all cigarette packages.

1971: All broadcast advertising for tobacco was banned.

1990: Cigarette smoking was banned on all interstate buses and domestic airline flights lasting up to six hours.

1994: The first of 22 state lawsuits were filed by Mississippi seeking to recover millions of dollars from tobacco companies for smokers' Medicaid bills.

1995: President Clinton declared FDA plans to control tobacco, chiefly sales and advertising targeting minors.


Tobacco Fact Sheet

  • There are 4000 harmful chemicals in Tobacco out of which 100 are identified poisons.
  • There are 63 known components in tobacco which are responsible for causing cancer.
  • Main ingredient in tobacco is nicotine.
  • Nicotine is a scientifically proven vasoconstrictor and a nerve toxin.
  • Nicotine is included in the class I insecticide category.
  • Other poisons in tobacco include Arsenic, Cyanide, Formaldehyde which is used to preserve bodies, and Ammonia Bromide which is the main agent used in toilet cleaner.

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