Tobacco History Of The World: Why Has The Planet Been Smoking For Over 500 Years? – 2024 Guide

Moscow, November 6. On this day more than 500 years ago, the legendary traveler Christopher Columbus first touched on a previously unknown Indian custom. The natives were burning the resulting wand from one side with rolled Tobacco leaves in their mouths. From time to time, drawing in its contents, the Indians let out rings of caustic smoke with their mouths, which made everyone present to tear. Thus, Europeans first got acquainted with the tradition of smoking, which later became one of the main problems of global health legislation. Today it is possible to buy a lot of products with nicotine on the world market – not only regular cigarettes but also Snus at site, which is a safer alternative to smoking tobacco.

The beginning of the smoking history of the world

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How true is the start date of tobacco history? It remains a mystery, but it is believed that the starting point falls on the first drag Columbus – November 6, 1492. Historians claim that the traveler himself did not appreciate the fun, but his comrades-in-arms held a different opinion and offered to bring tobacco leaves to his homeland. Europe was doomed.

The history of addiction was not without a fight: for a long time, smokers were accused of making a deal with the devil and even subjected to inquisitions. Nevertheless, strong addiction had already borne fruit by starting to spread tobacco throughout Europe. The Spanish and Portuguese continued to import strange leaves, and the Ottoman Empire even gave its own land to tobacco plantations.

Not knowing what the new hobby was, Europeans and later Asians, who “appreciated” the beauty of tobacco smoking, considered it both a cure for numerous diseases (including even cancer) and a remedy for headaches. In addition, tobacco smoke in Europe has become a cult and an attribute of privileged classes.

At the end of the XVI century, one of the Spanish doctors Nicholas Mondares published his work, which described in detail the curative properties of tobacco, which can cure 36 diseases. In his opinion, it was tobacco that cured residents of migraine, tooth and joint pains, as well as colic and other disorders of the body.

However, in parallel to the “smoke movement”, there was also an alternative – anti-tobacco. Its first activist was the church, which claimed the harm of “status amusement” for the human body. However, the attempts of this struggle were in vain – tobacco was so firmly entrenched in the world economy that a ban on it could entail the gravest consequences for any state secret.

In fact, this factor is still one of the sticks in the wheels to a complete ban on smoking. Tobacco expansion of the XIX century ended with an unconditional victory of harmful dependence on mankind.

Russia, not escaping such a fate, also became addicted to tobacco. Having penetrated into its territory under Ivan the Terrible, tobacco reached its peak in the days of Peter the Great, who legalized its sale and distribution. A few centuries later, tobacco became so tightly integrated into everyday life that it became one of the necessary elements of everyday life in Russia.

The course of the struggle

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Despite the almost total passion for smoke and, importantly, its significant role in the economies of countries, the fight against tobacco smoking has only gained momentum over time. The first and perhaps one of the most influential attempts was the 1890 American ban on the sale of cigarettes to minors. Later on, the same America prohibited women from showing up in public places with cigarettes.

Previously, almost every state tried to eradicate tobacco by its own methods: from the Western European Inquisition to stick beating and even the introduction of the death penalty in Russia. However, none of such methods of struggle brought tangible results. For this reason, in world history, the pioneer in the fight against addiction is considered to be America. However, this measure has helped little to reduce the consumption of cigarettes – as in our days, people have learned to bypass the innovation.

Decades later, this initiative, led by Germany, was also supported by some European countries. The apogee of the struggle fell on the German history of Nazism when the state tried to conduct the first-ever large-scale anti-tobacco campaign.
Nazi propaganda emphasized that the leaders of European fascism led by Hitler, Mussolini and Franco gave up smoking, while the “main German enemies” – Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt – are avid smokers. Historians attribute to Hitler the statement that ‘tobacco is the revenge of the red man’.

Soviet Russia actually suffered heavily from tobacco smoke during almost the entire 20th century. During World War I, cigarettes became an integral part of the soldier’s supply, supplying them to calm the nerves.

Despite the fact that since the beginning of World War II, many countries had introduced a lot of bans on smoking, the overall picture of the Soviet reality was not affected – cigarette sales only grew. The post-war years were truly the peak years for the promotion of smoking in all areas when illustrations of puffs of tobacco smoke began to appear in movie scenes and on advertising posters. Smoking became a kind of business card for all media heroes of the then world, from politicians to movie actors.

In the early years of the Soviet thaw, the preamble to the subsequent anti-tobacco legislation already began: the newspapers published medical research on the dangers of smoking and its most severe consequences for the body. The Soviet and European authorities publish warnings on cigarette packs, while the American authorities remove all tobacco advertising from television. This thorough training has become a good foundation for the future struggle that began decades and a half later.

The global offensive on tobacco products began with high taxes on cigarettes in the United States and Western European countries. The Soviet reality was much more democratic in this respect and acted in a rather instructive way, continuing to educate the public about the dangers of smoking.

Modern tobacco legislation

The prohibition trend so far continues to gain momentum. One of its main pillars is the UN’s anti-tobacco convention, which obliges parties to take action on tobacco issues.

WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is an international agreement adopted at the 56th World Health Assembly in May 2003. It was the first legal instrument to reduce tobacco use and deaths due to tobacco use. During the first year alone, the agreement was signed by about 90% of UN member states. Today the document is one of the most rapidly adopted treaties in the UN system.

Today almost all modern Europe is eliminating the bad habit of smoking bans in public places, which include almost all municipal and private institutions. Workplaces, bars, restaurants, educational and health facilities, as well as public transport, have been inaccessible to smokers for several years. In almost every EU country it is possible to smoke only in your own home or in specially designated places, which, by the way, is not created so much. Perhaps the Czech Republic is the only state that still allows smoking in bars and restaurants.

Psychologists note that the percentage of reduction in the number of addicts is very small. Despite the fact that cigarettes have been removed from the shelves, and the media have eradicated all advertising of the harmful substance, in some cases, the number of smokers has only increased.

Probably, in the near future, the cheerless picture will change, sociologists assure – at least the measures taken can bear fruit in bringing up a new “smokeless” generation.