Tobacco History Timeline

History of Tobacco


Tobacco is a plant that grows natively in America and is peculiarly enough in the same family as the potato and pepper. Tobacco plant seeds are very, very small as a 1 ounce sample contains about 300,000 seeds!


  • 6000BC - Experts believe the Tobacco plant started growing in American during this period.
  • 1 BC – It is believe by the experts that the Native Americans started to demonstrate different ways of using tobacco such as chewing and  smoking and quite possibly in hallucinogenic enemas (by the Peruvian Aguaruna aboriginals).  It is believed to have been used in religious and medicinal practices as a cure-all.  Additionally, it was used to dress wounds and also used as a pain killer; chewing tobacco was used for pain relief on toothache.
    • Christopher Columbus was offered dried tobacco by the American Indians as a gift.
    • Sailors then started to bring tobacco back to Europe so that the tobacco plant would then start to grow all over Europe.  It became very popular in Europe as people believed it had was able to cure anything from bad breathe to cancer.
    • In 1571 a Spanish Doctor wrote a book about medicinal plants and in it he claimed that tobacco could cure 36 health problems.
    • During the 1600’s tobacco became extremely popular and was frequently used as money.

    • In 1610 some of the negative effects of tobacco became apparent and it  was noted by Sir Francis Bacon that trying to quit the tobacco habit was extremely hard.

    • In 1760, Pierre Lorillard established a company in New York to produce tobacco, cigars and snuff. It is still the oldest tobacco company in America.

    • Over the years scientists began to understand that the chemicals in tobacco were dangerous for your hIn 1826 it was concluded that nicotine is a dangerous poison after the pure form of nicotine is fully discovered.

  • Hand rolled Turkish cigarettes is invented by Phillip Morris in 1847.
    • Chewing Tobacco became popular around this time with the American cowboys and in 1875 R.J. Reynolds tobacco company started to produce chewing tobacco.

    • In 1902 the cigarette became the major tobacco selling product.

    • Also in 1902 Phillip Morris set up a New York headquarters and announced a new brand ‘Marlboro’.

    • In 1913 R.J. Reynolds established a brand called ‘Camel’.  By 1923 Camel controlled 45% of the American market.

    • In 1924 Philip Morris began to market the Marlboro cigarette as a women’s cigarette “Mild as Mary”.

    • During the Second World War cigarettes sales were at an all time high, and cigarettes were even included in a soldier’s C-Rations. Tobacco companies also send millions of cigarettes to solders for free so that when they came out of the army they would have a steady flow of loyal customers.

  • During the 1950’s it became more apparent that smoking was linked to lung cancer, however the tobacco industry denied these health hazards and actually produced new produces that were supposedly safer with lower tar levels and filtered cigarettes.
    • In 1954 the first filter tip menthol cigarette is produced by Reynolds.

    • In 1964 the Surgeon General report on “Smoking and Health” came out. This report assisted in allowing the government to regulate the advertisement and sales of cigarettes.

    • In 1965 Cigarette ads were taken of the air in Great Britain.

    • In 1966 health warnings on cigarettes started popping up.

    • In 1971 Cigarette ads are taken of the air in America.

    • During the 1980’s many lawsuits were filed against the tobacco companies after evidence that tobacco products had a damaging effect on peoples health. Smoking stared to become politically incorrect and many public places started to ban smoking.

  • In 1982 the Surgeon General reports that second hand smoke can cause lung cancer. This restricted more bans on smoking in public places, especially the work place.
    • In 1985 lung cancer became the No 1 killer of women, even beating breast cancer.

    • During the 1980’s & 1990’s airlines stopped passengers smoking on flights.

  • During the 2000’s the smoking ban was enforced in many international restaurants and bars.
    • On 1st July 2007 smoking in public places, bars, clubs and restaurant became banned in the UK.

  • Many countries continue to enforce the smoking ban in public places.