Tobacco is a plant (Nicotiana tabacum and Nicotiana rustica) of tropical origin that contains nicotine. First written notes of tobacco come from Columbus and other voyagers who wrote about the locals (Native Americans) consuming tobacco. Tobacco production started by the Mayans who believed that tobacco was given to them by the spirits. Tobacco was a way to connect with the spirits and it was something that the spirits wanted as an offering as well. With the voyagers tobacco traveled to Europe where it became a popular pastime for the wealthy male. Until the poor decided to use the leftovers of tobacco to make cigars. Then the habit spread across the world. Since tobacco contains nicotine then it is highly addictive and when you have used it once or twice you will start to crave more of it. 

Tobacco was a men’s pastime, it was a bit of taboo for women to use it. Until the First World War empowered women in a lot of different ways, normalizing the use of tobacco among women was one of those ways. Since the 1950s society has been aware of the harmfulness of tobacco and safer options for its consumption have been created: nicotine pouches, nicotine gums and so on.

Tobacco is grown all over the world, but it is draining to the ground since it removes a lot of nutrients from the soil. Tobacco is picked 4 – 6 months after planting it. Then tobacco leaves are cured in one of four methods. It means they are dried. 

There are a lot of tobacco products and new ones are created every year. Read this article to find out more about tobacco and its products.

What is Tobacco?

Tobacco is a plant (Nicotiana tabacum and Nicotiana rustica) that contains nicotine. Though tobacco is tropical in origin, it is grown throughout the world. Tobacco is harvested 70 to 130 days after planting by one of two methods: (1) the entire plant is cut and the stalk split or speared and hung on a tobacco stick or lath, or (2) the leaves are removed at intervals as they mature. 

Nicotine is an addictive drug with both stimulant and depressant effects. It is used to create nicotine containing products which deliver the nicotine buzz to the user. Tobacco is highly addictive due to the nicotine content and tobacco use is a major risk factor for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, over 20 different types or subtypes of cancer, and many other debilitating health conditions. Each year, more than 8 million people die because of using tobacco. Tobacco is also deadly to people who do not smoke it: second-hand smoke causes 1.2 million deaths annually. 

Read more about Cigarettes.

Read on to find out when tobacco was first used.

When was Tobacco first Used?

Tobacco was first used by the Mayans around the first century BC as archeologists suggest. Maya people of Central America used tobacco leaves for sacred and religious ceremonies by smoking it. It then later spread as far as high up to the Mississippi Valley with the Maya community migrating from down south of America, in the years 470 to 630 AD. Gradually neighboring and native tribes adopted the habit. Native American “Shamans” developed tobacco use for religious rites. Columbus with Portuguese and Spanish sailors helped to spread different forms of tobacco to be used around the world.

Read on to find out where tobacco grows.

Where does Tobacco grow?

Tobacco plant grows everywhere in the world although they originate from the Tropics. Soil for a plant bed should be fertile and of good tilth and drainage. It must be shielded from extreme weather, the sun and the winds. The soil for tobacco plants is usually partially sterilized by burning or using chemicals (for example methyl bromide) to control plant diseases, weeds, insect pests, and nematodes. The seeds should be covered with a tender soil layer. Soil requirements differ widely among the type of tobacco grown, though well-drained soil with good aeration is a general necessity. Flue-cured, Maryland, cigar-binder, and wrapper types of tobacco are produced on sandy and sandy loam soil. Burley, dark air-cured, fire-cured, and cigar-filler types are grown on silt loam and clay loam soils, with clay subsoils. The need for fertilizer is chosen according to the type of tobacco, soil, and climate.

How did the popularity of Tobacco spread globally?

The popularity of tobacco spread globally firstly with the Spanish voyages. Columbus and other discoverers from the same era took tobacco with them to Europe. There it became a popular pastime among the wealthy. Eventually the poor people made cigarillos out of the leftovers. Tobacco also became a novelty gifting item among the wealthy people of Europe. Eventually tobacco plants were grown in different parts of the world and their price became affordable even to the poor. Until the First World War it was a taboo for women to use tobacco, but after it tobacco became popular among the women as well. In the 1950s consumers became aware of the harmfulness of tobacco. Ever since that period there have been global attempts by legislation, limitations and awareness campaigns to make it less popular.

Read on to find out which country is the largest producer of tobacco.

Which Country is the Largest Producer of Tobacco?

The largest producer of Tobacco is China. The annual production of tobacco was 2.13 million metric tons in 2021. Brazil is the second largest producer of tobacco with 762,266 tons annual production. India is a close third largest producer of Tobacco with 13 000 tons. North Carolina 113 261 tons of tobacco was produced in 2022.

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How has the Tobacco Industry Evolved Over the Years?

Tobacco industry has evolved drastically over the years. Firstly, the growing plant has moved from the tropics to all over the world. Secondly, tobacco has changed its significance from religious product to a pastime, stress reliever. Thirdly, the tobacco industry used to be handwork until 1880 when the first mechanical roller was patented by Bonsack. Fourthly, the tobacco industry used to be designed only for the wealthy and now the main tobacco consumers are lower middle-class or below poverty line. Fifthly, the tobacco industry used to only be directed at men who were the only consumer, but now there are brands designed specifically for women. Sixthly, when tobacco used to be used as medicine then now it is treated as a harmful and addictive substance it really is. Seventhly, when there used to be no limitations to the tobacco industry then now there are several: production, age limitations, packaging and advertising limitations.

Read on to learn different types of products are produced from tobacco.

What Different Types of Products are Produced from Tobacco?

Different types of products that are produced from tobacco are:

  • Cigarette: a thin cylinder of finely cut tobacco rolled in paper for smoking.
  • Cigar: a cylinder of tobacco rolled in tobacco leaves for smoking.
  • Cigarillo: a short, narrow cigar.
  • Chewing tobacco: tobacco that is chewed or held in the mouth, typically between the cheek and gums, rather than smoked.
  • Kreteks: unfiltered cigarettes of Indonesian origin, made with a blend of tobacco, cloves, and other flavors.
  • Snus: a type of moist powdered tobacco, typically held in the mouth between the lips and gums.
  • Pipe tobacco: is generally loose-leaf tobacco burned in a traditional smoking pipe with a bowl.
  • E-cigarette: is a device that simulates tobacco smoking. It contains nicotine extracted from tobacco.

Read on to find out about the chemical components of tobacco.

What are the Chemical Components of Tobacco?

The chemical components of tobacco (tobacco leaf) are:

Read on to find out how tobacco affects the human body.

How does Tobacco Affect the Human Body?

Tobacco affects the human body by making you more relaxed and alert at the same time. Tobacco will raise your blood pressure and heart rate. Tobacco or to be more precise the nicotine in the tobacco will make your body artificially produce pleasure hormones (dopamine and serotonin among other) which will give you the nicotine buzz. Tobacco will make your body addicted to it. It will also cause cancer among other illnesses. Tobacco is harmful for the body.

Read on to find out about the nicotine level of pure tobacco.

How is the Nicotine Level of Pure Tobacco?

The nicotine level of pure tobacco depends on the tobacco plant. The level of nicotine for Virginia tobacco is 3.26 % while Oriental tobacco leaves  contain ≤0.0500 %. It was found that nicotine content differs among different species and also where they are grown impacts the nicotine content of pure tobacco. Nicotine  strength is the level of nicotine in the nicotine containing product, but different products get absorbed differently. That means although a nicotine pouch contains 25 mg of nicotine per gram only 10 to 20 % of the nicotine gets absorbed. So equal nicotine content does not mean equal strength when it is a differently absorbed product.

Read more about Nicotine Strength.

Read on to find out the health risks of using tobacco.

What are the Health Risks of Using Tobacco?

The health risks of using tobacco are:

  • Cancer: a disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body.
  • Heart disease: a range of conditions that affect the heart.
  • Stroke: a brain attack, occurs when something blocks blood supply to part of the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts.
  • Lung diseases: any problem in the lungs that prevents the lungs from working properly.
  • Diabetes: a chronic, metabolic disease characterized by elevated levels of blood glucose (or blood sugar), which leads over time to serious damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): a group of diseases that cause airflow blockage and breathing-related problems. 
  • Emphysema: a lung condition that causes shortness of breath.
  • Chronic bronchitis: a productive cough of more than 3 months occurring within a span of 2 years.
  • Tuberculosis: an infectious bacterial disease characterized by the growth of nodules (tubercles) in the tissues, especially the lungs.
  • Eye diseases: any of the diseases or disorders that affect the human eye.
  • Problems of the immune system: It means the immune system is not functioning like it normally would.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: an autoimmune and inflammatory disease, which means that your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake, causing inflammation in the affected parts of the body. 

And many other diseases and health problems.

Read on to find out about legislative regulations for the production of tobacco and tobacco products.

How does the Law Regulate the Production of Tobacco and Tobacco Products?

Law regulates tobacco production and tobacco products in the following ways: user age restrictions, restrictions on advertising, restrictions on production. In the USA you need to be at least 21 years old to buy tobacco products, in Europe you need to be at least 18 in order to purchase tobacco products. There are different restrictions on advertising tobacco products and the health warnings that come with advertising and are attached to packets (USA, Europe). There are strict product restrictions and directions that tobacco producers must follow (for example what goes into tobacco products, machine requirements for production and so on). Tobacco production is also regulated by agricultural regulations, for example what fertilizers are allowed to be used, how to preserve picked tobacco and so on. 

Read on to find out whether tobacco is illegal.

Is Tobacco Illegal?

No, tobacco is not illegal. But it is illegal to sell it to or purchase to people who are younger than 21 years old. Some countries are planning on banning tobacco products completely (New Zealand). Some countries have banned certain tobacco products. Snus is illegal in most European countries. 

Read on to find out how tobacco leaves are processed.

How are Tobacco Leaves Processed?

Tobacco leaves are processed in these steps:

  • Flue-curing:  it means that the tobacco leaves are hung into curing barns, where heated air is created for drying the leaves. It is how they develop their distinct aroma, texture and color while losing moisture. Virginia tobacco is flue-cured.
  • Air-curing: is hanging the tobacco leaves in well-ventilated barns, and the tobacco is allowed to dry over a period of four to eight weeks. Burley tobacco is air-cured. 
  • Sun-curing:  is hanging the tobacco leaves outside into the sun for about two weeks. Oriental tobacco is sun-cured. 
  • Fire-curing: is drying the tobacco leaves in space where small fires are lit to dry the tobacco leaves.  It gives the tobacco a smoky taste.

Read on to learn the specifics to look at when processing the tobacco leaves.

What are the Things to Look at when Processing the Tobacco Leaves?

The things to look at when processing the tobacco leaves are color, size, shape and surface-texture. Color helps to grade the quality of the leaves- their maturity, freshness, nutritional condition and growth factors. Another important aspect for grading the quality of tobacco leaves is scent. Different sorts of tobacco have different ideals for these categories. Some leaf sorts need to be bigger and reddish to be the best of the bunch, some need to be crunchy, small and yellowish. 

Read on to find out about the cultural aspects of tobacco use.

What are the Cultural Aspects of Tobacco Use?

Cultural aspects of tobacco use are religious, communicative and now in modern cultures it is perceived as a harmful substance. In Native American cultures tobacco was something that the spirits gave us, was a way to communicate with spirits and spirits also wanted tobacco as offerings. In Middle Eastern cultures men came together to discuss things while using tobacco products. Nowadays the media and education have made tobacco a harmful substance that should be avoided.

In some cultures, women are not allowed to use tobacco products. It only became normal for women to use tobacco products after the First World War. So having an option to use tobacco can also represent your power in society.

Read on to find out how tobacco is perceived in different cultures.

How is Tobacco Perceived in Different Cultures?

In Native American culture tobacco was a part of religious ceremonies. It was something that the spirits (gods) wanted as offerings. It also was an opportunity for communication with higher powers.

In Middle Eastern culture tobacco was and is a pastime for men to come together and share hookah (waterpipe, tobacco) and discuss problems and joys. 

In modern cultures tobacco is more perceived as a harmful substance that you should not use.

Read on to learn whether there are any traditions associated with tobacco use.

Are there any Traditions Associated with Tobacco Use?

The religious role of tobacco is mostly among Native American tribes. It started with the Mayans and then spread around North and South America.

Woodland Indians had rituals, ceremonies, and religious observances; tobacco combines humans with spiritual powers. The manidog (spirits) love tobacco and the Indians gave that to them either by smoke from a pipe or by offerings of dry tobacco. The stories tell that the Indians received tobacco as a gift from Wenebojo who had taken it from a mountain giant and then given the seed to his brothers. Other native American tribes have similar traditions.

In Middle Eastern cultures tobacco (hookah) is a part of past time where you relax, share it and spend time with your close ones.

The next passage will introduce you to alternative tobacco products.

What are Alternative Tobacco Products?

Alternative tobacco products are:

  • Cigarette: a thin cylinder of finely cut tobacco rolled in paper for smoking.
  • Cigarillo: a small cigar.
  • Cigar: a cylinder of tobacco rolled in tobacco leaves for smoking.
  • Nicotine pouch: small, white pouch which contains nicotine but is tobacco free.
  • Snus: a type of moist powdered tobacco in small brownish pouches, typically held in the mouth between the lips and gums.
  • E-cigarette: small electronic device that is tobacco free and simulates smoking.
  • Hookah: a tobacco pipe with a long, flexible tube that draws the smoke through water contained in a bowl.
  • Pipe tobacco: any tobacco which, because of its appearance, type, packaging, or labeling, is suitable for use and likely to be offered to, or purchased by, consumers as tobacco to be smoked in a pipe.
  • Nicotine gum: smoking cessation aid that is in shape of a chewing gum, but not chewed as much but mostly parked between the lip and the gum.
  • Nicotine lozenge: a modified-release dosage tablet (usually flavored) that contains a dose of nicotine polacrilex, which dissolves slowly in the mouth to release nicotine over the course of 20 to 30 minutes.

Read on to find out the differences between vaping and smoking.

How is Vaping Different from Smoking?

Vaping is different from smoking firstly by the lack of tobacco. There is tobacco in cigarettes that you smoke but not in vapes. Secondly, vapes are electronic devices you just need to breathe in the vapor. Cigarettes you need to light before using them. Thirdly, there is no burning involved with vaping. Fourthly, vapes come in all kinds of fun and interesting flavors, there is no such selection among smokes. Fifthly, vapes have a larger selection of strengths than cigarettes do. Sixthly, vapes come in all kinds of interesting and colorful designs. While in cigarettes there is not much variety in design and colors. Seventhly, vaping has a nice taste while smoking has a bitter taste.

Read more about Vapes.

Read on to find out if smokeless tobacco products are safer than traditional tobacco cigarettes.

How are Smokeless Tobacco Products Safer than Traditional Tobacco Cigarettes?

The smokeless tobacco products are safer than traditional tobacco cigarettes but there is no burnt tobacco and smoke involved in using them. Burnt tobacco and smoke create more than 70 harmful compounds and cause the majority of illnesses connected with nicotine consumption. Snus for example still contains tobacco but has no combustion involved in its usage so it is safer than cigarettes in that way. Nicotine pouches do not contain tobacco but contain nicotine that delivers you the nicotine buzz. Snusboss offers the best selection of nicotine pouches for excellent prices. 

Read more about Snus.

Read on to find out why tobacco is addictive.

Why is Tobacco Addictive?

Tobacco is addictive because it contains nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and harmful to your body. Nicotine is a CNS (central nervous system) stimulant and has both stimulatory and relaxing actions on autonomic ganglia. It means that nicotine makes the person more alert and relieves anxiety/stress simultaneously.  Nicotine produces a short-term surge of endorphins in the reward circuits of the brain that causes a slight, brief euphoria. That nicotine buzz is short lived. With each usage your tolerance to nicotine grows. Which means you constantly need to raise your nicotine consumption to get the same buzz. This is what makes tobacco products so addictive.

Read on to find out how to help somebody with nicotine addiction from tobacco consumption.

How can Someone be Treated for Nicotine Addiction due to Tobacco Consumption?

A person can be treated for nicotine addiction due to tobacco consumption in different ways. The doctors recommend NRT (nicotine replacement therapy). Nicotine replacement therapy delivers nicotine (some methods do not involve nicotine), but not the other harmful chemicals that are present in tobacco. NRT comes in the form of gum, patches, sprays, inhalers, inhalers, lozenges, Chantix (Varenicline), or Zyban. You need a prescription for nasal spray, inhalers, Chantix (Varenicline) and Zyban (Bupropion SR, Wellbutrin SR), the other NRT options can be purchased without a prescription. Also, there are hotlines, meetings, support groups, acupuncture and so on. It is important to find support for battling addiction, no addiction should be taken lightly. 

Read more about Chantix.

Read on to find out about the environmental impacts of tobacco.

What are the Environmental Impacts of Tobacco?

The environmental effects of tobacco are toxicity, deforestation and greenhouse gas. Tobacco cultivation requires substantial inputs of labor (often by children), land, fertilizer, and water while producing substantial toxicity to land and water ecosystems. Both land clearance for cultivation and the wood burning and charcoal for curing tobacco are biggest contributors to deforestation. Every year the tobacco industry costs the world more than 600 million trees. Yearly greenhouse gas production of 84 megatons of carbon dioxide. Tobacco industry contributes to climate change and reduces climate resilience, wastes resources and damages ecosystems.

Read on to find out the details how tobacco production and processing contribute to environmental problems.

Do Tobacco Production and Processing Contribute to Environmental Pollution?

Yes, tobacco production and processing contribute to environmental pollution. Tobacco cultivation has been linked to soil degradation. The planting of a single crop and the use of herbicides and pesticides exhausts the soil and reduces its fertility, making it more difficult for other plants to grow. Tobacco absorbs more nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium than other major food and cash crops, tobacco growing decreases soil fertility faster than other crops.