Cigarette Smoking

Written by Sarah Provost
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The practice of cigarette smoking has been around a long time. Although cigarettes per se were not invented until the 1600s, traces of nicotine and what appear to be smoking implements have been found in prehistoric sites! By the first century A.D., use of tobacco by Native Americans was commonplace in the New World.

It was Columbus, of course, who was the first European to be offered tobacco. He threw it away, but a crewman, Rodrigo de Jerez, gave it a try. He liked it. By the mid-1500s, tobacco had been introduced in all the major European countries. Queen Elizabeth, persuaded by Sir Walter Raleigh, lit up in 1600, but centuries went by before cigarette smoking by women was tolerated in public. By 1604, her successor King James I had instituted the first tax on tobacco.

The first actual cigarettes were made in Spain in 1614, when poor people gathered up the tobacco scraps from a cigar factory and rolled them into paper. It wasn't until 1860 that manufactured cigarettes appeared, and the first Federal tax was slapped on them in 1862. In 1895, the first motion picture advertisement appeared, and yes, it was for cigarettes. By the end of the 1940s, 53% of all men and 33% of all women smoked.

Cigarette Smoking Falls Out of Favor

In the late '50s and early '60s, reports of health hazards resulting from cigarette smoking begin to circulate. After that it went quickly. First airplanes, then workplaces, then restaurants and bars became subject to non-smoking regulations. Office workers huddled outside in rain and snow, until they were banned from smoking near buildings. Now, Southern California even bans smoking on the beach! What do you think? Should we smokers try for endangered species status? Seems only fair to me.


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