Tobacco Industry History of Tobacco Ancient Times Research Paper

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Tobacco Industry

History of Tobacco

Ancient Times

Fifteenth Century

Sixteenth Century

Seventeenth Century

Eighteenth Century

Nineteenth Century

Twentieth Century

Modern Times

Corporate Stakeholders

Ethics & Social Values

Ecology & Natural Resources

Saint Leo Core Values

Throughout its long and storied history, tobacco has served the various appetites of religious shamans, aristocratic noblemen, common sailors, money changers and modern-day captains of industry. The aeromatic plant grew naturally in the moderate climates of the Americas and was transported to every corner of the world by seagoing merchants. Tobacco evolved from a miracle cure-all to a current medical pariah. From the days of King Philip III of Spain to present days, the tobacco industry has been controlled by a small number of governments and private companies. It wasn't until the nineteenth century that scientists began to understand the destructive nature of nicotine, about the same time that the automated cigarette rolling machine was invented, dramatically expanding the market. Modern evidence supports the conclusion that tobacco is a toxic product to produce and to consume. All aspects of the tobacco industry are contrary to the Core Values of Saint Leo University.

Tobacco Industry

History of Tobacco

Ancient Times

There is no indication of regular human tobacco use in the ancient world, except in the Americas. Evidence found in caves and excavations suggests that tobacco was cultivated in Central and South America as early as 6,000 BCE. Native Indians began using tobacco for religious and medicinal purposes about 1 BCE. Tobacco was seen by these early inhabitants as a miracle drug. They used it as an antiseptic to clean wounds, as an analgesic to relieve the pain of toothache and, some have said, even as a hallucinogenic enema. (Borio, 2011)

Between 470 and 630 CE, the Mayan tribes from Mexico, chased out by the dominant Aztec Empire, began moving north into what is now the United States. The Aztecs inherited the smoking of tobacco from the Mayans divided along economic and social castes. Members of the Court of Montezuma smoked ceremonial pipes filled with cut tobacco mixed with the resin from trees. The common Indians rolled tobacco leaves together and smoked crude cigars. The Mayans who settled in North America extended their practice with tobacco to the native tribes. The North Americans Indians adapted tobacco smoking as a key ingredient in their religion, believing that the Great Sprit could be seen in the rising smoke. (Borio, 2011)

Fifteenth Century

On a bright morning in October 1492, Columbus' three ships arrived in the New World for the first time, landing on the beach of an island in the Caribbean. The indigenous Indians, being either genuinely friendly or perhaps thinking the strange visitors were gods, offered them gifts. Columbus was puzzled in his journal that day about the gifts of fruit and dried leaves. Not wanting to appear ungrateful, Columbus accepted the gifts and his men brought them back to the ship. The record shows that they ate the fruits and threw away the bitter dried leaves. Robert Pane, a monk who accompanied Columbus on his second voyage in 1493, wrote lengthy descriptions about the native habit of inhaling snuff through the nose. He also described how the Indians burned the tobacco and inhaled the smoke through a tube. Pane is generally given the credit for being the first man to introduce the use of tobacco to Europeans. (Borio, 2011)

Sixteenth Century

During the first half of the sixteenth century, the Spanish and Portuguese sailors extended the use of tobacco along their trading routes, even as far as Japan. Trading ships making regular stops at the only open ports in Japan at the time, Kagoshima and Nagasaki, introduced tobacco to the Japanese they met. It spread through the country over the next few decades, often by Buddhist monks who used tobacco seeds to pay for lodging in the inns they occupied as they moved from place to place along the Tokaido highway from Osaka to Tokyo. (Borio, 2011)

During the second half of the sixteenth century, the supposed healing properties of tobacco dramatically increased its use in most European countries. A Spanish doctor wrote a book about the study of certain medicinal plants of the new world. In this book, he asserted that tobacco could cure 36 health issues including colic, hysteria, hernia, dysentery, toothache, falling fingernails, worms, halitosis, lockjaw and cancer. (BU Medical Center, 2011)

In 1561, France's ambassador to Portugal wrote letters touting the medicinal properties of tobacco. Thinking to curry favor, he sent snuff home to the Queen Mother of France to treat her son's migraine headaches. She later decreed that tobacco was her special province and that it should be referred to as Herba Regina. (Borio, 2011)

Sir Francis Drake returned to England from the Americas in 1573,with a substantial supply of tobacco. Ten years later, Queen Elizabeth granted Sir Walter Raleigh a royal charter for the establishment of a colony in America. Before his departure to the New World, Raleigh was introduced to smoking tobacco by Drake. In 1586, Ralph Lane, the first governor of the colony of Virginia (named after the virgin Queen,) taught Sir Walter Raleigh how to smoke tobacco in the long-stemmed clay pipe he had invented. That same year, Virginia colonists returning to England caused a stir as they disembarked at Plymouth smoking their pipes. A contemporary witness reported that those returning travelers were the first that he knew of to bring to England that Indian plant called tobacco. Elizabethans called tobacco "sotweed." (Borio, 2011)

Seventeenth Century

The dawning of the seventeenth century was marked by tobacco being so popular that it had become an instrument for commercial exchange. It was commonly thought that tobacco was a substitute for gold as a currency. It was also the time when the medical profession was just beginning to realize the dangerous side effects of smoking tobacco. In 1610, Sir Francis Bacon reflected in his notes that he had a really hard time trying to quit the tobacco habit. An anonymous English doctor, identified only as "Philaretes," published the Worke of Chimney Sweepers in which he stated that the chimney sweepers' chronic illness was caused by coal soot and hypothesized that tobacco could have similar effects. Tobacco was used as a cure for gonorrhea by drying up the discharge. Philaretes believed that this effect, if continued, would also desiccate a man's sperm, leaving him sterile. He also wrote that tobacco left men in a state of depression, which he thought must have a long-term damaging effect on understanding and imagination. Many of the health risks that Philaretes discussed in his book were proved to be true with the passage of time. (BU Medical Center, 2011)

King Philip III of Spain established Seville as the tobacco center of the world. In a first attempt to exercise market power, Philip decreed that all tobacco brought home in Spanish ships from the New World would be sent to Seville where it was stored and metered out in quantities sufficient to satisfy current demand. Seville became the cigar capital of Europe, and a partial trade in cigarettes developed as beggars gathered up tobacco from used cigars and rolled it in paper. The sailors again were responsible for extending the usage of tobacco to Russia and the Middle East. In 1643, Tsar Michael of Russia declared smoking a mortal sin and ordered that smokers be arrested, beaten, have their lips cut, and be exiled to Siberia. A visitor wrote that men or women who were guilty of using snuff would have their noses cut off. Fifty years later, Peter the Great, who advocated smoking, repealed the Romanov's harsh penalties. (Borio, 2011)

Eighteenth Century

In 1724, Pope Benedict XIII personally picked up the smoking habit and used snuff. He also repealed previously enacted papal bulls prohibiting priests from smoking. Shortly thereafter, "Tobacco Notes" were used as legal tender in Virginia. These Notes represented ownership of a certain quantity of, and attested to the quality of, tobacco kept in public warehouses. Used in America as units of monetary exchange throughout the 18th Century, these Notes were more suitable for currency than the actual tobacco leaf, which had been used for over 100 years as money. Virginia also enacted the Inspection Acts, which standardized and regulated tobacco sales and exports. Their primary purpose was to grant inspection warehouses the power to prevent the export of "trash tobacco." Shipments were mixed with leaves and warehouse sweepings, which were debasing the value of Virginia tobacco and the currency that derived from it. At mid-century, American tobacco factories began operating in Virginia, initially small snuff mills. Thus began the process of converting the colonial economy from agricultural exports to trading in manufactured goods. In 1760, Pierre Lorillard opened his shop in New York City to convert tobacco into cigars and snuff. P. Lorillard survives today as the country's oldest tobacco company. During the American Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress partially financed George Washington's army by using tobacco as collateral for loans from…[continue]

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