The Strongest Link: The origin of cigarette smoking

smoking

Q. Where and when did cigarette smoking start?

A. It is believed that the origin of the cigarette took place in America. The production of tobacco began in America, where people started consuming its leaves for smoking and chewing. The first users were considered to be of Maya civilization in Central America. The people of Aztecs in South America followed suite and crushed tobacco leaves, wrapped them in corn husks to smoke. This was more popular during religious ceremonies, which is attributed to the fact that priests and deities were shown smoking through pipes on the local pottery of the region.

The art of smoking gradually spread across the nations of South and North America. In the early 17th century in Spain, the corn husk was replaced by paper, spreading the custom of smoking the cigarette to a number of nations. During 1830s, cigarettes reached France, where its name was born. The present popular word ‘cigarette’ is actually the French adaptation of the Spanish word ‘sigarito’. In 1850, Turkish leaves were introduced, which became very popular in Russia. The cigarette was brought to the English world after the Crimean War.

During the war, British soldiers learned the art of smoking and after returning to England, spread the custom throughout the country. Owing to its widespread demand, a London tobacconist, Philip Morris started manufacturing cigarettes in 1854, which is a popular name now. The cigarettes were hand rolled during this time and a good roller in a factory could roll about 40 cigarettes a minute. However, in US, the manufacturing did not begin until 1864. The first person was seen smoking in 1868.

The manufacturing leader of the country was F. S. Kenney Co. of New York. The growing demand of the product led to the invention of the first cigarette making machine in 1879. In effect, the sales of the product reached heights by the end of 1889. The cigarettes prepared during this time were primarily made of light tobacco to which slight Turkish brand was added for flavor and aroma. From 1900 to 1910, the Turkish tobacco dominated the market scene.

During this time, the market comprised of around 200 different cigarette brands, which enjoyed only regional popularity. There was no sole American brand in the market and the Turkish tobacco was quite expensive. The rise in the cigarette sales was once again achieved, when J Reynolds used Prince Albert smoking tobacco in cigarettes, containing high dose of Burley and named it Camel. The brand gained immense popularity and became the first all-American brand. Along with this, the other two contemporary brands Lucky Strike and Chesterfield also caught on.

In 1922, the Tobacco Tax Law fixed the weight of the tobacco at 1361 mg per cigarette, thereby also determining the modern day size. By 1930s and 40s, the other brands which became popular were Old Gold, Raleigh and Philip Morris. However, the success story experienced a twist in 1950s, when various studies conducted on smoking indicated that consumption of tobacco was harmful. As a result, many large companies started manufacturing ‘safer’ cigarettes, which claimed to contain low-tar, low-nicotine content along with filters.

In 1954, R. J Reynolds manufactured the first filtered cigarette under the brand name Winston. In 1956, the first filtered cigarette with menthol, named Salem was introduced. In 1962, Kent brand was launched, which had ‘micronite filter’, containing asbestos. In 1980s and 90s, the cigarette manufacturing companies marketed their products extensively in other countries.

The developing countries of Asia were specifically aimed for. This period saw Marlboro being ranked as the top brand in the world, as its sales exceeded Coca Cola’s. On the contrary, during 1980s smoking was being considered socially as well as politically ‘incorrect’. Even cigarette ads were withdrawn from radio and television programs, surviving only in other concealed forms. However, in the 21st century, the society has become more acceptable and mature. It acts as a watchdog, informing people regarding the harmful effects of smoking and also aspires to protect teenagers from indulging in addiction.

source: http://lifestyle.iloveindia.com

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