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The Biography of Cigarettes

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A woman holding wine and cigarette

A woman holding wine and cigarette

Cigarette was a manly thing in the form of rolled tobacco that's popularly used by people to be more relax or just to bond with others. What is the background story behind it? Why people needed cigarette on that day? What was the kind of cigarette so popular back then?

The Invention of Tobacco

Tobacco has been growing wild on the Americas since 6000 years B.C.E. The tobacco itself first used as a product around 6000 years after it by Americans to be chewed or smoked during cultural or religious events. It was believed that its smoke opened the soul to allow spirits to bring their healing powers and remove negative energies from the body while chewing it was a form of gratitude and request to take out fears, stresses, or pains away. Besides that, people practicing medicine also believed that tobaccos healed diseases, such as asthma, earaches, insect bites, sore eyes, etc since they felt better after consuming tobacco for the illnesses.


For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Who discovered tobacco in modern times?
    • Vasco da Gama
    • Antonius Edwards
    • Alexander the Great
    • Christopher Columbus
  2. When did he discover it?
    • 1845
    • 1500
    • 1492
    • 1657

Answer Key

  1. Christopher Columbus
  2. 1492

The invention of Tobacco in modern times was led by Christopher Columbus who was also the first European to discover it. It was started from an Indian whom he encountered offered him dried tobacco which was proven by his journal following his landing on Bahamas written "The natives brought fruit, wooden spears and certain dried leaves which gave off a distinct fragrance." It was said that American Indians used tobacco as a relaxing substance and to intoxicate them from substances that weren't meant to be in their bodies.

Columbus also said that after he and his ship crews had known tobacco, they tried to consume it either by chewing or smoking and soon it became a habit. Among the sailor who consumed it was Rodrigo de Jerez and when he sailed back to his native country, Spain, he was sent to prison accused for satanic worshipping since smoking was categorized as one of the religious ritual among Indians.

Columbus and his crews

Columbus and his crews

First Popularization of Tobacco

After that, they planted tobaccos in Europe and they grew wildly in Europe. Not being prohibited, the usage of tobacco exploded since eventually people believed that tobacco cured diseases, such as bad breath and even cancer.

Since its rumors, researchers competed to prove its fact and on 1571, a well-known Spanish doctor, Nicolas Monardes proved the health benefits of tobacco that it could cure 36 types of diseases and the evidence was written on his book about the history of medical plants of the new world.

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After that by 1600, tobacco usage had been widespread around Europe and was used as payment media. It was so good that a quote appeared, "It was as good as gold!"

Since tobacco had been seriously developed, it led to the first massive production of tobacco by P. Lorillard on 1760 and it was sold on the form of pipes, smoking cigarettes, plug chewing tobbacos, and snuffs.

The Beginning of Cigarette Era

P. Lorillard first marketed smoking cigarettes (then named papelate) and snuffs but since the market was so massive, it diversified into chewing tobaccos and soon became very popular in 1830s. In that year too, cigarettes had reached their new market, France, and received the name cigarette.

In 1890, P. Lorillard almost lost its "independent" title since the establishment of American Tobacco Company, a tobacco company which came from the merge of 4 big companies with Lorillard being one of them, but it didn't last long since in 1911 the goverment issued a Dissolution Decree and antitrust investigation on ATC and sued ATC by breaking them up.

After that Lorillard stood on its own and many cigarette companies established such as HM Sampoerna in 1913, Swedish Match in 1915, Gudang Garam in 1958, and Altria Group in 1985. Actually after the punishment given to ATC, tobacco industry was not so stable. There were big campaigns on anti tobacco in 1950-1997. First challenge came from medical community that proposed that smoking caused cancer and the second one from the federal trade commission. Fortunately the challenge didn't mean so much since in 1980, anti-tobacco activism shifted decisively toward the courts, eventually wining some major settlements by exploiting change in tort law and in 1994, Lorillard's CEO, Andrew Tisch claimed that nicotine and cigarette smoking didn't cause cancer. As a solution, Tobacco Master Settle Agreement was signed which allowing tobacco companies to sell their product in certain conditions.

Cigarette Condition in Modern Era

Eventhough health awareness has been rising, cigarette prospect is still great as we can see in the chart below, the development of market is inclining on China and still relatively stable on other regions, except Australasia, North America, and Western Europe.

Cigarette consumption per year on countries

Cigarette consumption per year on countries

Cigarette consumption per capita per year on social classes

Cigarette consumption per capita per year on social classes

But the consumption on upper class itself depicts a declining trend. Since the majority of the world doesn't come from the upper class, cigarette industry is still relatively safe on several coming years but since cigarette consumption is significantly related by cigarette tax, we still have to watch about the cigarette tax of a country to ensure whether cigarette industry is still a prospect or not in the area.

The most popular cigarettes in the world are Marlboro with a brand value of more than US $ 35.5 billion, followed by Pall Mall with around US $ 7 billion, L & M with around US $ 6.8 billion, Camel with around US $ 3.8 billion, and Copenhagen US $ 3.5 billion.

As Fletcher Knebel said, "Smoking is the leading cause of statistics." Will we see good statiistics or bad statistics? We'll see them later. Just chill to make that interval full of calmness and fun!

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