History of Smoking
The topic of smoking is a dividing one. It has been regard for a long time that smoking leads to lung cancer and other illnesses, but if you ask the cigarette companies, they’ll tell you that there is no correlation. Well, whatever you believe tobacco smoking has been around for over 3,000 years and the production of tobacco plants keeps increasing. Phillip Chua examines the history of smoking and medical findings.
The interesting history of smoking tells us a lot about man, about ourselves as a people, as a nation, and about human beings on planet Earth in general.
The original form of tobacco was native only to the Americas, which they started growing as early as 6000 BC, but it was in 1000 BC when people started chewing and smoking tobacco. The first recorded smoker in Europe was Rodrigo de Jerez in 1493 AD, a fellow explorer of Christopher Columbus, who enjoyed the New World version of the Cuban cigar. When de Jerez returned home and smoked in public, he was jailed for three years by the Spanish Inquisition, the first victim of the anti-smoking law at the time.
Obviously, the Spanish people then were much ahead of their time (more than 300 plus years ahead of us today) in the campaign against the killer tobacco.
The most probable individuals who brought tobacco to England were Sir John Hawkins, first English slave trader (1532-1595), and Sir Francis Drake (1541-1596), the first sea captain to sail around the globe. Although he popularized tobacco in the court of Queen Elizabeth I, Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618) was mistakenly thought to have been the first one to introduce this substance to England. It was approximately in 1565 when the first shipment of tobacco reached England. Commercial production of tobacco in the United States started in the 17th century.
In his treatise, King James I (1566-1625) described the tobacco plants as “an invention of Satan.” In Russia, Michael Feodorovich (1596-1645), the first Romnov Czar “declared the use of tobacco a deadly sin in Russia and forbade possession for any purpose…usual punishment were slitting of the lips or a terrible and sometimes fatal flogging. … and in Turkey, Persia, and India, the death penalty was prescribed as a cure for the habit.”