The peoples of the pre-Columbian Americas first used tobacco. Native Americans apparently cultivated the plant and smoked it in pipes for medicinal and ceremonial purposes. Christopher Columbus brought a few tobacco leaves and seeds with him back to Europe, but most Europeans didn’t get their first taste of tobacco until the mid-16th century, when adventurers and diplomats like France’s Jean Nicot — for whom nicotine is named — began to popularize its use. Tobacco was introduced to France in 1556, Portugal in 1558, and Spain in 1559, and England in 1565. The first successful commercial crop was cultivated in Virginia in 1612 by Englishman John Rolfe. Within seven years, it was the colony’s largest export. Over the next two centuries, the growth of tobacco as a cash crop fueled the demand in North America for slave labor. Here is short history! Enjoy

6000 BC Tobacco starts growing in the Americas. Tobacco in its original state is native only to the Americas.

1000 BC People start using the leaves of the tobacco plant for smoking and chewing. How and why tobacco was first used in the Americas no one knows. The first users are thought to have been the Mayan civilizations of Central America. Its use was gradually adopted throughout the nations of Central and most of North and South America.

1493 AD Rodrigo de Jerez became the first European smoker in history. One of Christopher Columbus’s fellow explorers, he took his first puff of the New World’s version of the cigar in Cuba. When he returned home he made the mistake of lighting up in public and was thrown into prison for three years by the Spanish Inquisition – becoming the world’s first victim of the anti-smoking lobby!

1532-1595 Sir John Hawkins: first English slave trader, he made three expeditions from Africa to the Caribbean in the 1560s and is the most likely candidate for being the first to bring tobacco to England.

1541-1596 Sir Francis Drake: the first sea captain to sail around the world may have been the man to introduce tobacco to England.

1542-1591 Richard Grenville (cousin of Sir Walter Raleigh): another contender for being British mariner who introduced tobacco to England.

1552-1618 Sir Walter Raleigh: erroneously thought to have introduced tobacco to England. He did, though, popularize it in the court of Elizabeth.

1565 (approx) First shipment of tobacco reaches Britain.

1565 (approx) First shipment of tobacco reaches Britain.

1566-1625 King James I famously published his treatise,
‘A Counterblast to Tobacco’ in 1604. In it he described the plant as ‘an invention of Satan’ and banned tobacco from London’s alehouses. Later he had a change of heart, and ‘nationalized’ the burgeoning tobacco industry in England and even reduced tobacco taxes.

1595 Tobacco, the first book in the English language about tobacco, published.

1596-1645 Michael Feodorovich: the first Romanov Csar declared the use of tobacco a deadly sin in Russia and forbade possession for any purpose. Tobacco court established to try breaches of the law. Usual punishments were slitting of the lips or a terrible and sometimes fatal flogging. In Turkey, Persia and India, the death penalty was prescribed as a cure for the habit.

1600 Tobacco production now well established in the New World. Despite being banned by His Holiness Pope Clement VIII, who threatened anyone who smoked in a holy place with excommunication, smoking was becoming increasingly popular with Europeans.

1830 First Cuban seegars (as they were then known) arrive in London. Sold by Robert Lewis in St James’s Street in 1830.

1832 First paper rolled cigarette. It is widely believed that the first paper rolled cigarettes were made by Egyptian soldiers fighting the Turkish-Egyptian war. Other historians suggest that Russians and Turks learned about cigarettes from the French, who in turn may have learned about smoking from the Spanish. It is thought that paupers in Seville were making a form of cigarette, known as a ‘papalette’, from the butts of discarded cigars and papers as early as the 17th century.

1856 First cigarette factory opened. It was in Walworth, England, and owned by Robert Golag, a veteran of the Crimean War.

1858 Fears about the effects on smoking on health first raised in The Lancet

1900 Smoking jackets and hats have been introduced for gentleman smokers. After-dinner cigar (with a glass of port or brandy) is now an established tradition in turn of the century Britain. Cigarettes are also a part of life.

1914 Outbreak of World War I sees cigarette rations introduced. Smoking hugely popular with soldiers in battlefields of northern Europe and cigarettes became known as ‘soldier’s smoke’.

1932 Zippo Manufacturing was founded in 1932 by George G. Blaisdell. He developed the Zippo cigarette lighter in late 1932.

1950 Evidence of a link between lung cancer and smoking published in the British Medical Journal. Research by Professor (now Sir) Richard Doll and A Bradford Hill.

1992 Nicotine patches introduced.